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International PR, part three – Six tips for undertaking a PR campaign in Asia

Posted by Alex Perryman on 8th August 2011

So you’ve decided you want to run an international PR campaign in Asia.

Depending on your definition of where ‘Asia’ starts and ends, the ‘Asian’ market represents (depending on your definition) at least one sixth of the human race. By anyone’s measure, that’s a market worth tackling…

Trying to reduce such a huge, complex subject to the size of a single blog entry might seem a little disingenuous. However, everyone needs to start somewhere.

If there’s one thing you learn with experience of doing international PR in Asia, it’s that companies are often way more nervous about it than they need to be.

These tips are a good starting point, but don’t think you can go off and form your own international PR campaign from them. The common thread here is that you should always ideally take advice from a good agency with a solid knowledge of running international PR campaigns in Asia when embarking on your first activities in the region.

1. Divide and conquer:

Prioritise your regions as tier one, two and three, and attack in sequence. You’ll never be able to do more than three tier one’s at once, so don’t even try.

2. Understand the limited use of social media in a B2B context (and possibly exploit it):

Almost half of the world’s internet traffic originates in Asia. Yet as of this exact point in time, while blogs are hugely more popular than in the West, social media is vastly underused in a B2B context in Asia. Some media organisations re-broadcast news via, for example, Twitter, but that’s all. There’s little monitoring, little interaction, and certainly there’s no culture of journos or engineers openly discussing via social media in a ‘conversational’ fashion as part of an international PR plan. The fact that they’re very rarely authorised to do so is a very big factor in considering social media in Asia.

3. Do not cut corners with translation:

The results will suffer. Translate your core press material into the local language and take your agency’s advice on the use of interpreters. If you’re launching in Taiwan, make sure you use Taiwanese translators, don’t just convert copy translated for Hong Kong or mainland China.

4. Simultaneous launches aren’t always necessary:

Surprisingly, international PR activities undertaken in Korea may not affect your Chinese or Japanese audiences. It’s highly probable the two can be carried out at different times without any negative impact. A road trip around multiple countries in Asia may be more effective than a simultaneous launch using multiple spokespeople. Some markets may be more sensitive to receiving ‘old news’ later than global announcements, so plan carefully with your agency’s advice. However…

5. Be wary of running embargoes:

In much of Asia it simply isn’t culturally accepted that press will hold to embargoes, especially in China and Japan. This varies from press to press and country to country, so again, you’d be best-off asking advice. But you could do worse than assume the default position that embargoes just don’t work the same way in Asia.

6. Organise a face-to-face launch for your first launch in Asia:

If you’re serious about launching in Asia, plan to spend at least one full day on the road in each territory. Remember, if you represent a ‘western’ company, Asian press are looking for relevance to their territory. There are too many examples of big western companies failing to achieve traction in Asia because they thought they could simply announce their presence over the phone. Also take a known local agency with you for added credibility. Relationships mean everything.

Stay tuned for ‘Six more tips for doing international PR in Asia’, coming soon!

Alex Perryman

Alex joined Wildfire in 2007. He is renowned for his ability to pick up complex technologies and new industries extremely quickly.