Monthly Archives: September 2012

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Faith Brewitt, the name behind China-based company Have Faith in Your Brand, has kindly agreed to write for WMN and to let us re-post some of her earlier blogs.

Originally posted July 2012, re-posted with permission.

 

Eight Things Any Small Business Must Know Before Jumping In
China has become THE place to be and I often hear from U.S. and European small business owners that it seems like every company, big and small, is already there selling a product or service. The worry being, ‘Am I too late?’ The good news is that as fast as your competitors enter China, there are scores of Chinese businesses and customers coming online just as quickly; meaning there is more than enough to go around and the potential profits are sizable. So how do you break through the clutter to grow your customer base, build effective partnerships and get the media’s attention – all while not breaking the bank

 

 

In my 20 years of working and living in China, I’ve come to appreciate the dynamic and fabulously complex place that is modern China; and I’ve learned some surefire methods to getting the biggest bang for your PR spend. 

 

GETTING STARTED 
Choose a local PR agency. Now this sounds pretty obvious, and by “local” I don’t mean the Beijing office of one of the top global “full service” PR agencies like (Hill & Knowlton, Edelman, etc.). Small businesses do not need, and likely can’t afford, to spend big bucks on monthly retainers with these guys. What they don’t want you to know is that if you are small you won’t get the best talent working on your account. Sure they might send in the VP for the pitch, but in the end you’ll have an Account Executive or lower. Don’t be concerned with their title. Be concerned if the person really working on your account has the media relationships, knows all the universities and best venues for events, and has relations with the most popular (and affordable) local celebrities.  They will also need a real understanding and appreciation of what your company is all about – because they will become the de facto “face” of your business to the Chinese public.   

Go ‘native’. China is all about relationships, face-to-face interactions and respecting China. Going in with the wrong attitude can spell disaster. If you find a match with a small agency, they will help you navigate the local business customs and garner you the right kind of press. One challenge will be language. Many, not all, of the smaller Chinese boutique agencies spend all their days speaking Mandarin and while they do learn English in school, finding someone that you can really communicate with may take time. Take the time.

Get the right kind of exposure. What is the ‘right exposure’? If you are in transportation, pharmaceutical or banking, for example, and looking to make the right impact to your business, I’d prioritize government relations over traditional public relations. There are some great government relations agencies that are worth every yuan spent! But if you are in consumer goods or IT, I’d focus on finding a small agency that is working or has worked with companies you admire within your specific industry. 

 

Be clear and meet the team. When looking for an agency, be sure to send out a well written Request for Proposal (RFP) and specifically ask for bios of the real team who will work on your business along with their hourly rates. Meeting the agency’s team in-person is the absolute best case scenario and one that I highly suggest. You really need to see China to truly comprehend it and as previously mentioned, personal relationships are critical to success so TAKE THE TIME AND GO TO CHINA. But if you can’t for whatever reason, then definitely use a webcam to see the proposed team. Be prepared for awkward silences, because this happens when junior staff is sitting in front of their managers. Here’s a tip to getting around that – send your questions in advance, in writing and specifically ask for certain people on the team to answer them. This may seem strange in Western cultures, but it allows non-native English speakers time to digest the question and prepare a well thought out answer that best represents her or him and his firm.

 

NOW YOU HAVE AN AGENCY, WHAT NEXT?
Beyond press releases. If you only have a small budget, and as a small business owner I’m assuming you do, you want to make the biggest bang for your buck. Real engagement with press and potential customers is essential to building your brand and business, and that’s not going to happen as quickly as you need it to by sending out press releases in China. There are hundreds of journalists, at almost as many publications, and they get bombarded with press releases hourly. Journalists in China want face-to face time to meet with executives and appreciate tours of offices, factories and stores to learn first-hand about your business. So why not hold a summit or luncheon or roundtable and bring existing customers in with new prospects and media and hold a conversation about a trend or issue that relates to your business offering. This is a great way to promote your company as a thought leader.

Funny thing about titles. While you shouldn’t be worried about the title of your account person at your PR agency, you do need to be concerned with title when identifying spokespeople in your company. When it comes to Chinese media, they will always want to meet the CEO, then VPs, so make sure someone senior is available when doing press tours or large PR activities. 

What doesn’t work at home, works in China. While today in most Western countries, press events are no longer the norm and most journalists prefer to simply speak to you via the phone to save time and money, events and press conferences are a must in China. Press events around things you’d never imagine doing at home, like office and store openings, really work. Small events can run around US$10,000 for most agencies to support, plus out of pockets. The price rises depending on size and complexity of the event.  The old adage ‘to make money you need to spend money’ is true when it comes to publicizing your business in China.  Perception matters and photo opportunities (so you will need a colorful backdrop) and even finding a local celebrity to come to your event works extremely well. When done right these can garner a lot of buzz for your company.

Forget Twitter, try Weibo. Mastering social media is a challenge for any business in every country, but when getting started in China you need to know that both Facebook and Twitter are blocked by the government and therefore can’t be leveraged like in your own country. Knowing the local versions of both of these is a must. Your agency needs to able to use these tools to get the word out. Volume matters; literally hundreds of millions of Chinese use social media every day, so ignoring it is not an option. Make sure your agency is thinking about multiple audience categories also, like students and NGOs, as well as customers to speak on your behalf. One thing to remember – focus on your products and their benefits and stay away from anything controversial or critical of China itself.

 

Using PR to building your brand in China doesn’t have to be a daunting task. And in fact, it can be a lot of fun. The above tips are just to get you started. I’m eager to hear your comments and help point you in the right direction.

 

 


 

 

About Faith
Faith is a senior branding executive with 17 years international experience managing global public relations programs for Fortune 500 companies in the United States, China and across Asia Pacific and Japan. A mandarin speaker, she understands the complexities of the China market and how to help companies build brand awareness through engaging marketing and PR campaigns to meet and exceed business objectives.

 

Her company, Have Faith in Your Brand, delivers strategies and tactics for brand and corporate citizenship, strategic philanthropy and issues management. With capabilities in both Beijng and Singapore, we have the senior-level knowledge, to help grow brands in China and promote worthwhile causes and issues for both business and social progress.

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Faith Brewitt, the name behind China-based company Have Faith in Your Brand, has kindly agreed to write for WMN and to let us re-post some of her earlier blogs.

This one is a great read, from someone who has been speaking Mandarin and working in China since long before the general curve.

Originally posted August 2012, re-posted with permission.

 

There are hundreds of books and articles educating business people about how to do business in China. Instead of spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours reading books that will essentially tell you the same thing, I’ve taken my 18 years’ experience working and living in China and boiled them down into some tips that will help any business that wants to make a good impression with Chinese partners and customers.

The Big Six

 

  1. Chinese are always telling me how loud Americans are and they find it off-putting. Plus, for non-native English speakers, how fast we talk can be confusing and hard to understand. So keep in mind that they are working hard to follow you, do them a favor and speak more softly and slowly when in business meetings, on the phone or just chit-chatting about the weather.
  2. Do not underestimate the need for business cards when traveling to China, even in today’s world of LinkedIn. The name card is an important part of the introduction etiquette in most Asian countries and you will lose a small amount of respect in your Chinese counterpart’s eyes when you don’t have one.
  3. Even though the majority of Chinese you might encounter in a business situation have studied English and can read some English, it’s always easier for them to read about you and your business in their native language; soinvest in translating your website and marketing collateral. It also shows respect.
  4. Chinese appreciate hard copies of brochures, booklets and other materials. I’ve seen the trend of companies wanting to position their businesses as green and not print out as much collateral in the US and EMEA, but China still prefers it. For the Chinese, I’ve been told that it’s more about their impression of quality rather than being environmentally friendly. Companies that don’t have print outs are often seen as being cheap.
  5. The Chinese have a cultural behavior of saying ‘no’ three times when another person is trying to pick up the check at a dinner or lunch, or when receiving a gift of any kind. Let them say ‘no’ three times, but always pay– it shows face.
  6. Bring a small token of appreciation when starting to work with a new client or partner. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be somehow representative of your company, country or culture. Choosing something that is unique to where you come from works very well. Being from the state of New Hampshire, I tend to go with a bottle of our famous maple syrup.

 


About Faith

Faith is a senior branding executive with 17 years international experience managing global public relations programs for Fortune 500 companies in the United States, China and across Asia Pacific and Japan. A mandarin speaker, she understands the complexities of the China market and how to help companies build brand awareness through engaging marketing and PR campaigns to meet and exceed business objectives.

Her company, Have Faith in Your Brand, delivers strategies and tactics for brand and corporate citizenship, strategic philanthropy and issues management. With capabilities in both Beijng and Singapore, we have the senior-level knowledge, to help grow brands in China and promote worthwhile causes and issues for both business and social progress.

20120921_074703_14122



In case you haven’t heard, the WMN CASBAA event is all about Disruptive Innovation and how it relates to our personal experience of work – as well as to business as a whole and particularly the media industry.

We thought we’d take a moment to introduce one of our panelists, Emma Reynolds, and the idea of being a disruptor!

Emma Reynolds is the Co-founder & CEO of e3 Reloaded. Emma has lived and worked in Australia, Peru, United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Aged 23, she started her first consulting business; at 25 a research business and at 27 moved to Hong Kong to build her third business, e3 Reloaded.

A two-time University dropout, Emma developed a strong passion for marketing, communications and consumer insights, so she started working full-time when she was 17. Learning by doing, she spent five years in Australia in a variety of roles, her most memorable being with The 20/20 Group Australia.

She since lived in Peru, working with Peru’s Challenge in remote villages and communities outside Cusco. Next, in London she moved from Marketing to HR where she spent a year working with Barkers Norman Broadbent before co-founding e3 Unlimited. Over the following few years she and business partner Bruce Morton grew e3, started a research business and gained international recognition for their transformation projects with Tata, PepsiCo, Merrill Lynch, Virgin, Holcim and Skandia.

In 2010, she moved to Hong Kong. Now, she speaks internationally on the changing world of work, generational collision and talent acquisition innovation. Emma was included on the prestigious ’35 Women under 35 list’ and curated TEDxMongkok.

One of the fantastic blogs that Emma shared with us, is about pirate activity and disruption.

 

“Recently we visited the office of a friend at a young Silicon Valley startup. It didn’t take long for us to spot the first pirate flag – the skull and bones that characterise the renegade attitude inherent in Silicon Valley’s tech disruptors.

Steve Jobs’s now famous maxim, originally said to the Macintosh team in 1982, started it all: “It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy.” This rebel spirit has since trickled into the rest of Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg has continued the spirit with his own rebellious maxim: “Move fast and break things.” Silicon Valley – and its disruptors – run on rebellion, a low regard for risk, and phenomenal innovation. The pirates of Somalia happen to use the same exact recipe…”

Read the rest here.

 

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