Letter from China
by Ruojing Bai
I am currently doing my internship at the Beijing office RGF HR Agent, a Japanese total recruiting solutions provider for global clients. RGF China has been working on building up a bridge between Japanese firms (in and outside Japan) and China's HR market. Our unit includes nine people, working on a programme called "Work in Japan."
This programme recruits fresh graduates (undergraduates and postgraduates) from prestigious universities in China to work in Japan. In 2012, nearly 160 Chinese graduates successfully started their career in Japan.
Secrets of Chinese PR
For PR professionals who are new to China, it is particularly hard to grasp the characteristics of their target groups and understand the real needs of their clients. To truly understand your audience, my suggestion is: be an anthropologist. Leave what you have heard about China aside, listen to what Chinese people say about their minds and needs, and try to build the argument on local logic. If you are actually in China, try not to lock yourself up in the office and read about what is happening outside. Least of all, don't imagine your client's needs. Get on a crammed bus in rush hour and experience how ordinary life is carried on in China.
Working with journalists in China could be a challenge. It is especially important to know and observe China's media censorship, laws and regulations in journalism. In order to maintain a trustworthy and enjoyable relationship with the local media, it is wise not to challenge those rules.
Likewise, it is also essential to respect Chinese people's common feelings towards certain political issues. I have an example here. A PR practitioner whom I know was in charge of a launch of a new Japanese jewelry design. Reporters from local newspapers were invited, bottles of champagne were ordered and nearly 200 invitations were sent out. However, when the big day arrived, except for the reporters, none of the guests showed up! It was an extremely awkward situation and the practitioner was at a total loss what to do. She immediately phoned her key guests and inquired about their absence. Their answers were rather straightforward: none of them would publicly humiliate themselves by celebrating the launch of a new jewelry design of a Japanese brand on 7 July, the national memorial day signifying Japan's invasion of China in 1937. This example shows the importance of being aware of past historical events and how they may relate to cotemporary Chinese society.
I hope this helps with your exciting PR work in China!