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“Made in China” – shaping an image

Globalization of Chinese companies offers opportunities for the PR industry

The rise of China as a global economic and political powerhouse is a hot topic every now and then on a regular basis. Only recently, the visit of German chancellor Angela Merkel has again resulted in a number of media reports on the tremendous changes and amazing developments in China’s economy, such as “China’s companies are discovering the luxury market” in the major economic daily “Handelsblatt”.

It’s definitely true and some of us have been experiencing it ourselves: China is working hard to get rid of its “sweatshop”-image, and its global players have made an amazing progress in developing world-class products of high quality. They are receiving internationally recognized certificates for their technological standards (e.g. ISO-certificates), and prove their compliance with international ecological and social standards.
The result confirms their strategy: Western automotive companies are striving to cooperate with companies like BYD (Build your dream), Chinese specialist for e-mobility, and Warren Buffet has invested 230 Mio. US Dollar in BYD. Chinese solar companies like Yingli Green Energy, Suntech Power and Trina Solar have gained a strong position on their export markets, especially in Europe. Young urban Chinese show their patriotism by developing an increasing trend for „buy Chinese“ – just to name the sports brand “Li Ning” as an example.

Chinese global players: ambassadors to a new economic superpower
„We have just started an extensive globalization program and aim to get among the top five players“, said Zhang Zhiyong, CEO of Li Ning, according to “Handelsblatt”. And Li Ning is not the only one: More and more Chinese companies invest into marketing activities to raise awareness among consumers worldwide, and to strengthen their image. The Chinese government is supporting these companies, as they are the ideal “ambassadors” representing the country and its globalization strategy. Alike “made in Germany”, “made in China” is supposed to symbolize top quality, state-of-the-art technology and modern design – and the Chinese protagonists in politics and economy want to upgrade this to “created in China” as soon as possible.

New target group for PR business
What this means for PR industry is pretty obvious – it still might take some time, but more and more Chinese top managers will recognize the importance of media relations for their company, especially when they are going global. To date, you rarely hear or see them – but the first Chinese sponsor of the FIFA World Cup has already appeared on the international stage, and others will follow with similar activities. For PR agencies, a new target group opens up, who might be interested in a broad range of communication services from product launches, corporate communications, image positioning to crisis communication, just to name a few. Understanding China, its modern history and its social and economic background will certainly help to serve these clients successfully, but a lot will also depend on the “intermediates”, the company’s representatives in the local markets, and their influence on the communication strategy and activities of their company.

While this new business field may kill your nerves from time to time (as it does with many other clients), it’s an inspiring opportunity where both sides can learn a lot from each other. And last but not least: Chinese dinners are a great “training field” for communication, and if for some reason you are not in the mood to talk: Chinese food is simply delicious!

Claudia Wittwer (GlobalCom PR-Network)

2 replies
  1. Carlotta James
    Carlotta James says:

    Great article. And remember that almost all new business ventures and financial matters in China are agreed upon over dinner. Understanding Chinese cultural dinner norms will greatly improve the chances for building global economic ties. For example, try not to drink (alcohol) alone, always “cheers” or “ganbei” with your fellow associates first.

    Reply

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