China Public Relations: The ImageThief Primer

Best newspapers on China

When it comes to China PR, if Will Moss over at ImageThief says it, I view it as gospel [definition number 4 in the link].
In a recent post, Inside Carrefour’s crisis management in China, [link no longer exists] Will sets out some of the basic rules of crisis communication for foreign firms doing business in China:

Be prepared to respond fast. Silence often equals guilt in the eyes of the public. Have an issues management kit that anticipates possible crisis scenarios in place beforehand. Don’t rely on guidance from overseas headquarters.

Pay close attention to the tone of your public communications. Address concerns. State positions. Don’t condescend or talk down to Chinese audiences.

Get everybody on the same page. Limit public comments to the minimum number of spokespeople and throttle unauthorized communication.

Brief employees so they know what is expected of them and how to respond to media queries, ambushes, etc.
For consumer brands, ongoing monitoring of the Internet is a good idea. Internet scandals are often flashes-in-the-pan, but they can erupt into the mainstream. It’s better not to be caught by surprise.

Is this any different from how such a crisis should be handled stateside?

A few months ago, I spoke at an excellent conference in Las Vegas on “Managing the Risks of Manufacturing in China.” One of the speakers, also an international lawyer, nicely summed up how US companies should react to a China manufacturing crisis by saying they needed to be like Andy Petite, not like Roger Clemens in terms of how each of them handled their charges of steroid use.

Sounds like good advice for a China crisis also.

One response to “China Public Relations: The ImageThief Primer”

  1. I think this is similar to a question I have heard posed before in other contexts about “management” as a whole or in general. Is “management” and “managing” about a set of nearly universal principles and practices or must it be “culturally specific”? Or is it a bit (or a lot) of both?
    Simplifying a bit (or a lot) just to try to bring a half way reasonable example, if management is (or were arbitrarily defined to be) planning, organizing, delegating and monitoring/ controlling work would these activities or aspects of management be different in Asia, Africa, North America or Europe? Or would they be the same? And how should practicing managers practice them?
    And another example of the same kind could be made with respect to the so called functional areas of management i.e purchasing, logistics, producing operations, technology management, R&D, finance, marketing, sales, strategic or short term planning, employee relations, public relations, government relations and etc. etc.. Are these the same everywhere or are they different or should they be culturally and company and context specific?
    Personally I think they are the same but they need to fit and be adjusted and adapted to specific/particular cultural, social, political and organizational (and temporal) contexts .
    And so it’s probably no different in terms of giving good advice to companies about how to react to PR problems that might come down their road e.g. Carrefour above. (Though I don’t think Carrefour’s particular problems in this situation are only “PR” problems)
    That is, it is just as Imagethief says it should be. Companies should be: a) ready b) pay attention to how they communicate c) get their people on the same page and etc. etc. -as above-
    But just how to be ready, how and what ways to pay attention to communications and what to get their people onto the same page about, will vary from place to place, company to company and situation to situation. (and would certainly be different “States-side”
    Is this sort of an “insight” Management 101 or does it belong in some Advanced Graduate Seminar? I think – if it is even right at all- it belongs in management 101 whereas in the Graduate Seminar (or in consultancy practice) one then works to figure out the specifics of policy and practice in each individual case.

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