For Multinationals, Messaging a Wary Society Requires a Plan and Understanding
China can be a difficult place to get your message across. Beyond the challenges facing a brand anywhere–delivering consistent, targeted, actionable and high-quality information–communications professionals in China face another obstacle: a wary public. Companies, government, and even the media have tried to cover up several scandals in recent years–from the SARS epidemic to the melamine milk tragedy. And the result has been a growing distrust, among Chinese citizens, of received information. While the central government is trying to regain the trust of society (via recent crackdowns on corruption), Chinese citizens are taking it upon themselves to become better informed. The emergence of social media has busted open the doors to an overwhelming amount of information–the problem in China, as elsewhere, is that sometimes the information coming through these less authoritarian sources isn’t reliable either. So companies have to work extra hard–no other way to put it–to make its brand communicate. Negative rumors can run rampant and corporate reputation–whether for hiring (it’s competitive), sales, or simply good corporate citizenship (the Chinese are highly focused on getting green)–is critical to success.
Reputation management in China is difficult, yes, but the opportunities abound. For starters, don’t expect miracles overnight. A company has to earn its reputation every day and every week. (Rumor will eventually lose to facts, with persistent application.) So consistency is key. The average staff turnover is 20% for private companies in China. Yet you’ve got to have a system in place so your business can act as one unified force rather than just a group of individuals working together. Just think about it: If your employees are confused about your company’s values, chances are they’re going to send out the wrong message at the wrong time.
— Read more about “The Future of Reputation” via MSLGroup Asia.