Border talk: What a Hong Kong PR needs to know about working in China

28 Oct 2016
Janet Chan

Sinclair recently celebrated the opening of a Shanghai office, our first outside of Hong Kong. The opening not only reflects a wider trend of a shift to the world’s largest market, but also reinforces our integrated PR approach and reflects the ongoing support of local and international clients.

One such international client was Farrells, the award-winning British design firm behind iconic structures such as Beijing South Railway Station and Hong Kong’s Peak Tower, with whom we have worked closely to launch their 25th anniversary architectural exhibition this year.

We first assisted with Farrells’ exhibition in Hong Kong from March to April this year. And last week, we provided support for the same event immediately across the border in Shenzhen. There were significant differences to overcome in our approach to two very different markets, and provided a fascinating insight into how the same even needs to be packaged quite differently, even despite the geographical proximity of each market.

Here are four key learnings we heeded to ensure the exhibition was a success in China:

Mainland audiences have different needs
As audiences in Hong Kong and the PRC have different interests and expectations, we have to understand their needs well and create compelling talking points for each segment. Every detail counts: for our China audience, we prepared press materials in Simplified Chinese, ensuring that the language and tone were in a ‘Mainland style’ so that audiences felt comfortable about receiving the brand’s messages.

Be attentive when talking to Mainland media
In Hong Kong, we always chat with the media (in fact, with everyone!) by using Cantonese and English at the same time. When we interact with PRC media, we had to prepare ourselves by having the right Mandarin terms ready for the brand’s work and projects. And if the brand’s spokesperson only spoke English, we needed to be ready at any time to act as translators for China media and facilitate communication.

Establishing and cultivating positive relationships with stakeholders is a must
A successful PR event and campaign launch is not possible through the efforts of PR professionals alone – they requires input from different parties. Therefore, we had to source trustworthy stakeholders in China, including a production house, photographer and clipping house, to ensure that every part of the campaign was well executed.

Always be passionate, positive and persistent
Regardless of whether you’re working on a PR campaign in Hong Kong, the PRC or anywhere else, you have to keep the ‘3Ps’ in mind: passion, positivity and persistence. With passion and a positive attitude, you have more persistence in overcoming any challenges and dealing with unprecedented situations.

As audiences in Hong Kong and the PRC have different interests and expectations, we have to understand their needs well and create compelling talking points for each segment. Every detail counts

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