Whilst social media, pay-per-click and SEO are all great ways to position your brand as an authority in China and increase sales, public relations still remains one of the most effective marketing strategies around. Not only does it build credibility and brand awareness, but it opens your business to new audiences who perhaps would not have considered you before.
Naturally, there are differences between Chinese PR and PR in the United Kingdom. Not only do Chinese consumers trust authoritative voices more than those in the West, but they are highly-sophisticated and middle-class, which can change the way you pitch products.
That’s without mentioning the cultural differences between China and the West, which will also have an impact on brand positioning and PR targets, so we always recommend working with a professional in the country who can pinpoint the most appropriate news outlets, blogs, magazines and KOLs to increase your reach and ensure your PR campaign is a success.
Below, we’ve put together a basic introduction to Chinese PR to give you a helping hand…
Define your voice and goals
Perhaps most important to a successful Chinese PR campaign is defining your brand voice and personality so that it aligns to your new target market. It’s natural to want to translate your UK press releases into Chinese and send them out to as many people as you can but to truly deliver an ROI, you should take into account local cultures, tastes, and attitudes.
Messages that worked well in the West may not translate so successfully when you pitch them to a Chinese consumer, so hone in on your target market and understand their needs.
You should also carefully define the goals of your PR campaign. It would be unwise to expect a single press release or PR event to transform the fortunes of your business and help you sell thousands of products, so decide your main aims and objectives.
For example, you might want to build brand recognition in the country or gain reviews from reputable news outlets which you can use in other marketing activities like social media.
Plus, the clearer your objectives are, the easier it’ll be to measure the success of your campaign.
Create engaging material
Work with a Chinese marketing specialist and utilise their local knowledge to create material that your target market will want to share on WeChat and talk about with their friends.
You might decide to localise and translate your existing website and marketing materials, taking into account the nuances of Chinese consumers to represent their culture, or you may feel that bespoke content designed for your Chinese target market would work best.
The latter allows you to build a brand from the ground up that can be optimised for Baidu and Chinese conversions, but the former is cheaper, ensuring consistency with your UK brand.
Above all else, your PR material must be engaging to both consumers and to journalists and influencers who will spread the word about your business. If it’s too salesy it will never get off the ground, so find the sweet spot and look for selling points or unique value propositions.
Put content in the right places
Now that you’ve created PR content, you need to put it in the right places.
But with more than 800 million internet users in China, it can be pretty tough to stand out - billions of posts, messages, videos, GIFs and images are shared on networks every day, so you need to choose the right sites, portals, forums, and networks to maximise your reach.
Conduct research to maximise your marketing bang for your buck, and remember that Key Opinion Leaders can also be used as part of an effective Chinese PR campaign, though using them doesn’t guarantee results, so estimate your ROI before handing over any cash.
Use Chinese SEO to rank
When potential customers search for your business, you want them to see lots of nice things about you and your products, so optimising for Baidu (China’s answer to Google) should be a priority. We recommend publishing your content on multiple third-party platforms that are indexed by Baidu and using off-site optimisation techniques to help them rank on page one.
Also consider the benefits of publishing your PR content on Baidu’s own platforms such as Baidu Tieba (the largest Chinese communication platform, allowing consumers to publish their own answers or results for keywords) and Baidu Zhidao (a Q&A site similar to Quora).
Over time, your brand’s voice will become a trusted source amongst your target audience, as you’ll pop up when they’re searching for products and services like yours. You’ll gain respect and build brand awareness, resulting in increased sales - so make it easy for people to click through to your website when they find you on third-party websites and platforms. Insist that PRs and journalists link back to you, and optimise brand-owned channels for conversions.
Time it right
Finally, consider your timing. You wouldn’t kick off a PR campaign for a restaurant offering Christmas dinner in January, so don’t start promoting your products and services via PR until you’re ready. We recommend building a Chinese-language website first so that when people do read about you, you can deliver a great user experience when they stumble upon your site - and they can buy from you there and then if they were impressed with your products.
Consider tying your PR campaigns into Chinese events such as Chinese New Year and Singles Day (though remember that established brands will be making a lot of noise and you may be drowned out) or piggybacking off of trends or influencers on networks like Douyin.
Building a successful Chinese PR campaign won’t happen overnight, so unless you have tons of local knowledge, you’ll need to rely upon native marketing experts.
If you’re thinking about taking your UK brand into China, depend on Zudu China.
Our team of Chinese marketing experts - based here in the UK and in China - can position your brand as an authority and generate the press coverage and sales you need to thrive.