Chinese businesses are increasingly going global, mainly private high-tech and Internet enterprises, and are looking forward to being listed in the United States and Hong Kong. Many private enterprises are also looking forward to setting up factories and expanding product sales into developing overseas markets. At the same time, they are eager to establish their popularity and reputation overseas and enhance their brand and product image. Therefore, reporting through influential international business media is generally recognized as one of the most effective ways.
The most familiar international business media for companies in the Chinese market include Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times (FT), Bloomberg News, CNBC, Fortune Magazine, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and HK-based South China Morning Post. These media have a high authority due to their strong reputation and credibility.
However, these Chinese enterprises both respect and fear foreign media, mainly because Chinese companies and entrepreneurs have different understandings and misgivings about media reports' objectivity and reporting style.
For example, Chinese businesses and entrepreneurs hope that their enterprises and products' reports should be 100% positive without negative content or doubts. The report titles, in particular, are expected to be positive, even if it's not that appealing to attract readers. However, it is difficult for the international business media to report positively without any negativities, doubts, or challenges.
Most Chinese enterprises will not deal with international business media unless they have to, as they are concerned about the uncontrollability of the report's content. In particular, Chinese enterprises need to find a delicate balance in their relationship with these international business media, including the positive and negative content, certainty, and doubt in strategy.
We hope that the following suggestions will help Chinese business and entrepreneurs to communicate more effectively with the international business media.
- Assess in advance the possibility and necessity of seeking coverage from international business media, as well as the potential risks.
- Understand the characteristics and advantages of international business media, target readers, reporting styles, content preferences, relevant China-based correspondents, and other factors, then choose the most suitable international business media for communication.
- Abandon the thoughts of "controlling the media" and that "the content should be controlled."
- There should be no expectation of 100% positive and 0% adverse reports, respect the media, and have a certain tolerance for possible unfavorable questions and coverage. It is the reporting feature of international business media and not done out of malicious intentions.
Chinese companies should be more inclusive of different voices in overseas communication and respect the objective reporting of foreign reviews, rather than blindly asking the media for compliments. When facing negative comments or questions from the media, Chinese enterprises should take the initiative to communicate with foreign media, understand their value judgment standards, and show corporate responsibility to avoid a vicious cycle of aggressive interpretations between the two sides.
- Proactively establish a long-term communication relationship with international business media in China and provide regular information about the company and industry market to have a more comprehensive and objective appraisal of the Chinese company and industry landscape.
Today, more and more Chinese companies choose to partner with China-rooted public relations agencies that also have an in-depth understanding of the overseas communication environment. They intend to use public relations companies as a communication bridge to deliver information more thoroughly and accurately to overseas media and audiences.
It is suggested that Chinese enterprises strengthen their partnerships with professional PR agencies to ensure that international business media have impartial, unbiased, and comprehensive reports on the companies and businesses that wish to venture into the overseas market. Strong partnerships would create a balanced and favorable media environment for public opinion in overseas markets.
Yan Han is Chairperson, International Business at China Topline Consulting Group in Beijing, China.
This post is part of a thought-leadership series from The Worldcom Public Relations Group featuring media relations best practices and local market insights.
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