China Calling: PR and Communications in the Mainland

Posted by Prospect‘s Asia Pacific Team

We’ve seen the headlines heralding the rise of China on the world stage.
We’ve witnessed the cross-sector innovation originating in the Mainland.
We’ve watched in awe at the financial trajectory of companies headquartered in China.

If you, like many of our candidates, have ever wondered about the PR and communications industry in China, wonder no longer. Since Prospect opened our doors in Asia in 2010, we’ve worked with many companies headquartered in China, as well as companies with a growing presence in the Mainland.

In this series of articles, we go right to the source and ask the people who are leading the industry. We’ll speak with our agency and in-house communications contacts about the growth, priorities and opportunities for PR and communications professionals in the Mainland China market.

If you’re currently based in China, or open to relocating to China from across Asia, please reach out to Amanda Lee, amanda@prospectresourcing.com or Joan Liew, joan@prospectresourcing.com for a confidential discussion.

中国召唤:本土公共关系与传播业发展洞察

我们司空见惯于中国崛起的新闻标题。
我们一路见证了来自中国市场的各种跨行创新。
我们对中国企业的经营数据提升轨迹心生敬意。

如果你也和我们的众多候选人一样,曾经对中国大陆的公关及传播行业充满好奇,那么我们将借此解除你的疑惑。Prospect于2010年进入亚洲市场以来,已经与许多总部位于中国大陆的企业及为在中国市场发展的跨国企业成功合作及提供招聘人才相关的服务。

在以下的几篇短文中,我们将溯源而上,直接对话公共关系与传播行业领军人物,探讨目前中国国内公关及传播专业人才的发展、优先考量,以及行业机会。

如目前你在中国国内工作,或者有从亚洲任何市场迁往中国境内工作的想法,请联络Amanda Lee, amanda@prospectresourcing.com 或者 Joan Liew, joan@prospectresourcing.com 进行私密交流。

Nancy Wu has built an impressive career in China working with international PR agencies providing counsel to MNCs and spearheading award-winning campaigns. As Managing Director at Grayling China, Nancy has led the growth of the team from three to 20 people and increased revenues by 300% in just three years. Grayling China provides the reach, influence and infrastructure of a global agency, with the creativity, connections and cultural know-how of a boutique, while also fostering a positive agency culture which prioritises work-life balance.

“The PR and communications industry in China is exciting and challenging. Things have moved quickly in the past few years with the rapid development of technology, and fast-changing consumer behaviour. There’s a lot of potential here.

“Recently, the Chinese Government has increased its support of domestic companies, and the domestic media is very responsive to topics raised by the government, which are often reported in the newsreflected in the coverage. We’ve seen clients paying more attention to crisis and reputation management, and corporate communications, particularly MNCs who are keen to demonstrate their “In China, For China” policy. Additionally, Chinese companies are seeking communications support for their global market expansion while demand for new (digital) media initiatives remains high.

To fulfil this demand, we prioritise new hires with experience in corporate communications, and also creative individuals with a background in creative and social agencies. We have a team that comprises local and non-local professionals and we strive to have a respectful, diverse and harmonious culture in our agency.

My advice to non-local professionals looking to work in a PR agency in Mainland China is to be open-minded. China is a unique and huge market, so enjoy the challenges and embrace the complications.”

Nancy Wu, 董事总经理, 鲲领(Grayling)中国

Nancy Wu女士在中国大陆的职业发展轨迹令人瞩目。她曾就职于多家国际公关公司, 为在中国发展的跨国企业提供咨询服务,并且带领团队获得多个国际奖项。作为鲲领(Grayling)中国的董事总经理,Nancy在过去短短3年间,将团队从3人迅速展至20人的精英团队,并同时增长300%的业绩。如今的Grayling中国兼具国际企业的纵深、影响力及企业架构,以及传播热店的创新能力、人脉关系和文化认同,同时积极鼓励 “work-life balance” 的企业文化。

“中国公关和传播行业的发展令人激动,并充满挑战。过去几年由于科技进步,消费者行为不断变化,代理商必须能够迅速反应并提供有效的解决方案。

“近来中国政府加大了对本土企业的支持,而国内媒体对政府动向的敏感性,也让相关新闻报道对此也有了直观体现。我们的客户对危机管理、声誉管理,以及企业传播的重视程度显著提高。其中,致力于彰显其 “扎根中国,服务中国” 原则的跨国企业在这方面需求尤为突出。与此同时,不少中国企业在为其海外市场拓展寻求整合营销服务的同时,对海外新媒体平台运营亦展现极高需求。

为了迎合市场以及客户的需求,我们在人才招募时更看重企业传播方面的相关经验,也对有创意和社交媒体代理商背景的创意人才敞开怀抱。我们的团队齐聚本土及海外专业人士,互相尊重、多元丰富、和谐共融是我们努力实践的企业文化。

我建议考虑在中国大陆传播行业寻求机会的非本土专业人士们,要保持一个开放的心态。中国是一个非常特殊且广阔的市场,所以应该尽可能去拥抱其复杂性,享受挑战。”

Caren Li built her more than 20-year communications career in China through a combination of in-house and global agency roles. Now a senior director at an international luxury company, Caren’s expertise spans crisis, social media, corporate communications, and brand marketing.

“In China, the rapid development of social and e-commerce has blurred the lines between public relations, marketing and digital marketing. In the past, companies have tapped into the fan economy and positioned celebrities as brand ambassadors. However recent celebrity scandals such as those involving Kris Wu and Zhang Zhehan have highlighted the potential threat to corporate and brand reputations. The greatest challenge (and opportunity) facing in-house and agency PR professionals in China is working out how to meet the needs of the commercial teams and efficiently support business growth while acting fast enough to alert any changes or trends that potentially impact the brand or company. Without creative thinking and passion to learn, PR is at risk of being limited to media relations.

“I’m fortunate that my communications team has been a trusted business partner, of both local commercial team and global functional partners. Because of this, we have the opportunity to spearhead exciting initiatives and collaborations across brand marketing and corporate communications. We look for people who are eager to learn not just PR skills, but also functions like marketing and e-commerce and how new practices like livestreaming, social media and influencer marketing can bring value.

“My advice to non-local professionals looking to work in a communications function for a company in Mainland China is to spend as much time as possible understanding the Chinese social landscape and be eager to learn from practices of brands even across different industries.”

Caren Li,资深总监,企业事务部,某奢侈品国际品牌

Caren Li女士过往20年的传播通讯事业发展轨迹覆盖了企业内部传讯及国际公关机构的多个职位。 目前作为某国际奢侈品品牌的资深总监,Caren全面负责该企业的危机公关、社交媒体、企业传讯,以及品牌营销。

“在中国市场,社交媒体和电子商务的迅猛发展已经模糊了公关关系、市场营销及网络营销等部门及职能的界限。过去有不少企业尝试通过签约明星作为品牌代言人探路饭圈经济的红利。但是近来以吴亦凡及张哲瀚为代表的一系列明星丑闻, 高光了此类操作对企业及品牌的潜在影响。在国内,不管是企业还是机构公关专员面对的最大挑战(或者说机遇)都是要找到一套符合企业商业团队需求,并有效支持业务发展的解决方案,并对市场乃至社会的动态和趋势变化做出及时的判断,快速及时的将潜在影响企业和品牌的风险进行预警。如果没有新的、突破性的思维和迫切渴望学习的意识,公关团队的功能将被仅仅局限于媒体关系。

“我很庆幸,我所在的团队是公司信赖的商业伙伴,不管是商业运营团队还是总部的业务伙伴,都对我们非常尊重。正因如此,我们常常有机会牵头品牌营销和企业通讯等部门,共同完成振奋人心的活动与合作。我们对人才的选择,要求不仅限于掌握公关专业相关技巧,也必须熟知如何通过市场营销、电子商务,以及直播和社交媒体网红营销等新手段,为企业带来价值。

“我建议考虑在中国大陆公关机构工作的非本土专业人士们,投放尽可能多的时间去了解中国的社会景观,人文动态,并且从其他品牌甚至是跨行业的实践中汲取经验。”

Originally from Singapore, Charmaine Lin has been based in Mainland China since 2014 and
was recognised as one of Asia-Pacific’s top-rising talents in Campaign Asia-Pacific’s ‘40 Under 40’ in 2019. She is currently the General Manager & Client Partner of Gusto Luxe, Asia’s leading consulting, creative solutions and digital innovation agency with offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and London and a team of 130+ specialists providing consulting and integrated solutions for luxury brands in the fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle industries.

“Mainland China is a unique market with its own digital and social ecosystem. Things move and change at a rapid pace, and agencies need to be nimble enough to constantly evolve and update their service offerings to thrive in this very competitive market. With China’s rising purchasing power, we have seen tremendous growth in the premium and luxury brand sectors, especially in beauty and domestic travel. There is a big demand for digital marketers who can advise clients on how to navigate this complex ecosystem and engage with the new generation of Chinese consumers.

“At Gusto Luxe, we are constantly on the lookout for digital talent across all levels. We look to hire people with a positive can-do attitude, who are collaborative team players and most importantly, have a passion for the work and industry. We offer an inclusive, fun and kind working environment, and we believe in supporting our people to lead happy and balanced professional and personal lives. Life is too short, so we only work with nice people, and this includes clients! I love being surrounded by colleagues who are passionate about what they do and clients who trust us and work in partnership with us.

“My advice to non-local professionals is to be aware that that China is a very different market and, despite your prior experience and transferable skills, there will be a steep learning curve. China has a very different value system compared to other westernized countries so it is also important to have a deep understanding of cultural nuances so that you can bridge international practices with local market realities. And of course, brush up on your language skills if Chinese is not your first language.”

Charmaine Lin, 总经理兼客户合伙人, Gusto Luxe

Charmaine Lin女士来自新加坡,自2014年起于中国市场为奢侈品品牌提供综合发展方案。在2019年, Charmaine被评选为《Campaign亚太》举办的“2019亚太区40位40岁以下营销精英”最具潜力的人才之一。

Charmaine目前任职Gusto Luxe的总经理兼客户合伙人。她带领着位于上海、香港、新加坡和伦敦的专业团队,为来自时尚、美妆、旅游及生活等行业领域的客户,通过咨询,提供创意策划方案及数字创新服务。

“中国大陆市场非常特殊,它有一套自己的数字和社交媒体生态系统。这里的一切瞬息万变,机构必须保持灵敏机变,不断提升和更新其服务范围和能力,才能在竞争激烈的市场中取得成就。随着中国市场消费水平的不断提升, 我们见证了高端产品及奢侈品品牌,尤其是美妆和国内旅游领域品牌的巨大增长。因此市场对于这一类的数字营销人才有显著的需求:他们能够为客户就 “如何驾驭市场复杂的电子生态系统” 提供实操建议,并且有效对接新一代中国消费者。

“在Gusto Luxe, 我们永远都在寻找各个层级的数字人才。我们诚意聘请那些相信 “天下无难事” ,态度积极的团队合作者,尤其看重对行业和工作不灭的热情。这里的工作环境包容、有趣、充满善意, 我们相信且支持员工去追求职业发展和个人生活的平衡。人生苦短,所以我们选择只与良人共事,这也包括我们的客户!我非常热爱现在的工作,因为这里有对事业饱含激情的同事,还有对我们充满信任、合作共赢的客户朋友。”

“我对非本地专业人才的建议是,对中国市场的特殊性要有充分的认知,无论之前有多少所谓的行业经验或者可转技能,初入市场都必然会面对陡峭的学习曲线。 中国对比其他西化的国家市场有非常不同的价值体系,对本土文化细微之处的深度掌握因而至关重要–非如此,则无法有效嫁接国际通行方法于本土市场实操。另外一个建议当然就是提升中文水平,尤其如果中文并非你的母语。”