It is a cliché, but also true that the communications environment varies widely across the various countries in Asia-Pacific. Australia is as different from India as Japan is from China. Many of the countries that make up the Asia-Pacific region have only seen PR campaigns for the last ten or twenty years – not like in the US where public relations already started in the early 20th century and the Public Relations Society of America was founded in 1948.
Because PR is still young in the Asia-Pacific region, not all tools and tactics are as widespread and common: in some countries you will need to build your own database of contacts and develop measurement tools. Social media channels will differ and so will the uptake of it. Moreover, the media landscape is likely to be less specialized, with fewer industry, trade and channel press – which in turn makes it more difficult to pitch enterprise technology stories – and dominated by local news stories.
To maximize the success of your PR campaign in Asia-Pacific, make sure to follow our top 10 tips:
- ‘One size fits all’ does not work in Asia. Whilst parts of Asia share many cultural and even linguistic elements, each country should be treated as a different territory when planning your campaign. Although there may be some pan-regional media, there is no such single entity as an Asian campaign
- Good PR has its price. It comes as no surprise that communications in Japan are expensive, but don’t expect that China is going to be cheap – it is a big market and media is fragmented. PR activities will need to take place in Beijing, Shanghai as well as other regions and translation costs will be incurred.
- PR business is still a people’s business across Asia-Pacific, and especially in China. Therefore establishing a good personal relationship with the journalists is paramount – sending out press releases by E-mail simply won’t work.
- Know the local market. Japanese PR managers would appear to best target newspapers ahead of TV and online, whereas in Australia the strategy might be completely reversed. China has its own social networking systems, such as Renren and Sina Weibo, as does Japan, where Facebook is still relatively small compared to the domestic, mobile phone-based networks of Gree, Mobage Town and Mixi.
- Localization is key. Local language websites and collateral, as well as business practices, processes and models are important. For example, McDonald’s determined that its original “I’m lovin’ it” philosophy would need to be reinterpreted to reach its target audience of 23 to 29-year-old YANKs (Young Adults No Kids) in China. In a rare move, McDonald’s developed a special positioning just for the China market, calling for consumers to take a moment out of their stress-filled lives and “Make Room for Happiness” .
- Have a local point of view. Don’t just pursue your sales objectives, but add value to your communications. Keep to the regional or global messages, but add to them and demonstrate what benefits your company can bring to the local market. What is the local impact your new data centre brings to the local market? How can businesses in Singapore benefit from your new unified collaborations solution? For example, Procter & Gamble Gilette’s razor campaign “Shave Sutra” was specifically created for India, to demonstrate that Indian women find clean-shaven men sexier.
- News must be provided to the media in local language. An English-language press release or phone call is more likely to generate a headache than a headline. For example, ninety-nine percent of business communication in Japan is conducted in Japanese so a first-class interpreter or translator will be needed.
- Provide templates and guidance – but allow markets to be flexible enough to adapt content. They will need to translate, re-purpose and trim content to fit local market needs. Chinese press releases are much longer than English ones due to added details about the local marketplace and how the company is positioned locally. Some of the sentences will also seem a little repetitive, but the aim is to emphasize key points. Also, allow the local team to adjust the timing of the announcement – you don’t want to make the same mistake as Qantas with its ill-timed “Qantas Luxury” campaign after a strike grounded its fleet last October.
- Be aware of time differences. News announced in the US will be a day late in Asia-Pacific – unless you can pre-brief journalists. At the same time, think about how this impacts conference calls with your team as well as potential phone interviews with press.
- Listen and learn. As a PR or marketing manager you will need to set the tone and manner of communications, but listen to local advice. Ask local experts to tell you what does and does not work in their local markets, and when they do, listen carefully.
Do you have any other tips that you’d like to share? If yes, please leave a comment below.