China Media Landscape - White Paper


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China's media landscape can be a tricky industry to navigate. This white paper breaks it down and provides essential tips on how to have your marketing and communications strategies work in China.

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China Media Landscape - White Paper

  1. 1. White PaperNavigatingChina’s ComplexMedia Landscape ........... We Tell Your Story to the World .
  2. 2. White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape The media landscape in China is quite complex and constantly evolving, as attitudes and policies continue to change. China can offer incredible business opportunity, if you are willing to embrace the differences and adapt accordingly. No one can deny the potential of doing business in China. Its economy continues to enjoy strong growth, the growing middle-class is spending more of their disposable incomes and Chinese businesses continue to expand overseas to compete with their western and fellow Asian counterparts as they search for new business to continue China’s rapid expansion. There are many international companies that have conquered the China market. The likes of Wal-Mart, adidas and Accenture are just a few of the stars that have excelled as a result of their dedication, understanding and respect of the Chinese media landscape. The annual survey of the US-China Business Council in 2011 provides some insightful information about how their members see the future of their businesses in China. A market that is worth US$200 billion to US companies, 71% stated that China was a top five priority in the coming year, while 60% noted that profits from China operations were higher than their other global operations. The US-China Business Council survey also pointed out that a massive 88% expected to see greater profits from their China operations as compared to the previous year. Those that know and understand China, clearly recognize the huge potential that is available, and more importantly, are confident that their businesses will continue to be profitable, despite the onset of yet another global recession. Of course, for every successful business, there are many more that have failed. Perhaps the biggest reason for this failure is the belief that a company can simply come in, set-upCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 2
  3. 3. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World shop and be profitable. A lack of consideration for local market contexts and adaptation of business models also leads to an unsuccessful program. This white paper provides useful and usable information about the media landscape in China, the importance of a strong marketing and communications strategy and how best to use it to your advantage. The primary takeaway of this paper is simple. Chinese media and influencers will be vital to your business success in China and the ability to understand and engage with both the media and your customers will almost certainly lead to failure. Enormous opportunity awaits provided you are willing to put in the time and effort to effectively communicate and engage with your target audiences. China’s Media Landscape This new hybrid landscape, however, The media landscape in China can be very confusing and contradictory at still needs to be times, but it can also be summarized by its fast transformation. A number of carefully navigated. commercial media and cutting-edge internet platforms have gained presence Broadcast, print and amidst state-run media that once controlled all aspects of print and broadcast digital media are media. The new media empires have seen aggressive growth in recent years, closely monitored, and despite continued attempts from authorities to keep a tight grip on the type editors and journalists of content being produced, and has even spurred state-run media increasing alike are under their own efforts to appear more fresh, modern and relevant. government pressure to ensure content is This new hybrid landscape, however, still needs to be carefully navigated. suitable for public Broadcast, print and digital media are closely monitored, and editors consumption. and journalists alike are under government pressure to ensure content is suitable for public consumption. This section breaks down the media landscape in China, looking at the key components of China’s traditional media, online portals and new media, to help ensure that you are prepared with the knowledge and tools to expand your marketing and communications efforts in China. Traditional Media As the world’s third largest advertising market, traditional media in China continue to play the all important role in a burgeoning media landscape. Despite considerable growth in online news sources and communities, they remain the most trusted sources of information. Any marketing and communications strategy must include this vital set of media.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 3
  4. 4. ............ White PaperWhite PAPeR Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World Newspapers & Magazines China is the world’s largest newspaper market and while many countries have experienced a decline in the number of newspapers and magazines being printed, China continues to expand. With over 9,000 magazine titles and 2,000 newspapers currently in print, China is king of the printed word. While the state-run newspapers tend to be older and more Top 10 Chinese Newspapers by Circulation traditional, the newer commercial newspapers showcase newspaper circulation greater freedom, despite being subject to the same levels Reference News 3,250,000 of censorship and being owned by consortiums led by People’s Daily 2,520,000 the state-run companies. Almost all revenue, though, is Guangzhou Daily 1,850,000 generated by circulation and advertisements, irrelevant of Yangtse Evening News 1,740,000 the publication’s ownership. Qilu Evening News 1,670,000 When looking to generate exposure, it is important that both Information Times 1,570,000 types of newspapers are targeted. While the commercial Southern Metropolitan Daily 1,400,000 newspapers are enjoying growing readership and building a Global Times 1,350,000 reputation for more investigative and sensational journalism, Jinling Evening News 1,200,000 the state-run newspapers still wield influence, especially on West China City News 1,150,000 more sensitive and political subjects. This influence, however, Data Source: is certainly waning in business circles, as trade publications and online sources see increased authority. Of course, China’s long list of newspapers and magazines are not unknown to the Internet. Many have online versions that are directly competing for readers against the more well- known online news portals. Some offer subscription content and a much wider range of content, as they are not limited by the length of the traditional publication. Newspapers and magazines are also becoming more actively involved in social media and mobile entertainment platforms as they look for new ways to expand their readership. Television The importance of television to the Chinese cannot be underestimated. With a penetration rate of 97%, television is at the core of many of China’s 1.3 billion citizens’ news consumption. Television advertisers, clearly aware of this fact, account for 76% of all advertising revenues in China. With 374 television channels, it may seem odd that the only national network is the state-run China Central Television (CCTV). With 20 channels under the CCTV brand, it also includes the globally-exported CCTV News. Many local and regional TV stations, however, can be picked up throughout the country, depending on the satellite and cable services that are available in a given region. Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 4
  5. 5. ............White PAPeR Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World Major TV stations, other than those controlled by CCTV, include Hunan TV, Phoenix TV, Dragon TV and Travel TV. Strict censorship guidelines continue to pose an issue to television in China. While the older generations remain loyal to their favorite medium, teenagers and well-educated adults are seeing limitations in the type of broadcasting available; becoming increasingly skeptical of the controlled messages to which they are being exposed. Such demographics, therefore, are shifting to online sources that have a much greater freedom to entertain. News agencies There are only two news agencies in China: Xinhua News Agency and China News Agency. The latter has a much smaller influence on all fronts, while Xinhua is the government’s primary collector and distributor of information in China- and the most authoritative source on Chinese government affairs. As the largest wire service in the world, Xinhua provides daily, 24-hour news information to the world in Chinese and English. It is also responsible for creating many of the media controls regarding censorship in China. online Media Online media is regarded as one of the major information sources in China today. SINA, SOHU, NetEase and Tencent (, the four largest commercial news websites in China, are considered the four main web portals and the primary news source for many younger and more educated people. Today, China has over 513 million active Internet users and a broadband penetration rate of 98%. Of note, however, government regulations restrict websites from producing their own news so most are simply aggregators of content, primarily from newspapers and magazines. Usually, the online news sites have to acquire news Major News Portals from reputable print media sources, providing the online versions of print publications, with strong networks, even greater leverage. For example, if your news is picked up by a certain media point and that media point has a strong content sharing network, it will be displayed on many other websites and highly visible in search engines. This is an essential component of the online news environment in China and why PR professionals prefer to build relationships SiNa, SOhU, Netease and tencent ( are the largest commercial news websites in China, and they act as the primary with these types of media or use services that already news source for many younger and more educated people in China. have these established relationships.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 5
  6. 6. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World Unsurprisingly, the Internet is also closely censored. Many international sites are blocked- by the infamous “Great Firewall of China,” including news sites such as the BBC, at times.. Chinese websites are sometimes blocked during times of increased sensitivity, especially those built around blogs and public forums that allow people to freely express their opinions. Specific materials deemed a threat to political stability, such as controversial photos, search terms and particular iPhone apps, are also banned. Search Engines Just as in the U.S., search engines are playing an increasingly important role in how news is found and read. With the mounting popularity of online news and entertainment, search engines will continue to gain importance, and are therefore essential components of any strategy in China. After all, with internet users surpassing 513 million, there are a lot of people searching for content so a strong SEO strategy will provide a big advantage for international companies looking for visibility in China. Press releases and news articles, multimedia content, and Chinese social media platforms are the best tools for improving search engine visibility. Baidu is by far the dominant player in the search engine market in China; and shows no signs of losing its grip. The NASDAQ-listed company enjoys more than 80% market share according to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center, with Google enjoying less than 6%. Major Search Engine The Center also reported that Baidu is the first port-of-call for over 95% of searches, although Google ranked the most popular second choice With more than 80% market share, so targeting both Baidu and Google is undoubtedly a good strategy for Baidu is the dominant search engine getting found in Chinese search engines. in China. New Media China is home to an abundance of online content, with a host of domestic and international companies competing across numerous channels. Getting found can certainly be challenging, but for those companies that are willing to spend a little time to provide engaging information in Chinese, the rewards can be endless. The Chinese are far more welcoming of those companies that are seen to be making an effort. While mistakes can be forgiven, ignorance is a much greater challenge to overcome. The new media platforms offer an ideal place to build relationships, tell your story and engage with stakeholders. Of course, social media hasn’t replaced the traditional news media yet and given that the traditional elements still hold great influence over China’s media industry, there needs to be a fine balance between the new and the old. A fully integrated marketing and communications campaign is, without doubt, the fastest way to success.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 6
  7. 7. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World And, for those relying on YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and the like, the Great Firewall of China ensures that these efforts are lost on the majority of Chinese. Western social media, blogs and social networking sites are generally blocked, and it’s therefore essential to get involved in the local Chinese equivalents of these platforms in order to reach the desired target audience. Many of the online giants are also publicly-traded, with the likes of SOHU, SINA, Tudou, Renren and Youku listed on either NASDAQ or the NYSE. Source: CIC Western social media, blogs and social networking sites are generally blocked. This chart shows the local Chinese equivalents of popular Western platforms.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 7
  8. 8. ............White PAPeR Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World social Media Major Weibo Sites Social media now plays an undeniable role in connecting people and developing and maintaining relationship with the media; serving as a platform for PR professionals to interact with journalists, other professionals and the general public. The dominant social media sites in China are the “Weibo” (Twitter-style micro-blogging) sites, which enable 140-character long tweets to be posted, and can include photos and siNa weibo ( With 250 million users, SiNa Weibo is the most influential weibo in China. multimedia content. However, where in the US Twitter essentially monopolizes the micro-blogging environment, China Tencent weibo ( tencent is the biggest interesnt service provider in China and its micro- is home to numerous micro-blogging platforms that compete blogging service has more than 300 million users. with each other to become more influential and attract the highest number of users. social Networking sites China’s social networking sites are also enjoying strong growth. With Facebook banned in China, QZone, Renren, and Kaixin dominate the local markets with a combined total of nearly 750 million users. LinkedIn is also growing in popularity in China, representing one of the only global networking platforms open to Chinese professionals and reporting over one million China-based users. Source: BloggerInsightCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 8
  9. 9. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World Mobile There is also a strong trend towards mobile media. According to data released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, by mid-2011 China had over 920 million mobile users. And, of the 513 million Internet users, 65.5% use mobile devices to access online content. Mobile platforms offer a huge potential for expanding the number of opportunities a company has to engage with their audience. Any company looking to gain influence in China should actively offer content across the relevant online platforms and locations and engage stakeholders through mobile devices. In fact, iResearch recently reported that the market scale of China’s mobile internet is over US$6 billion, with a year-on- year growth of 97.5%. Traditionally, “Shou Ji Bao” has been seen as the most prominent source of news for mobile users. As an aggregator of news from newspapers, websites and other media, Shou Ji Bao’s distribution platform has seen its influence diminish recently, as other news media have become more sophisticated in the tools they use to present their own news and information. Also, as smartphones become more sophisticated, and people better understand their full capabilities, Chinese users are looking to mobile devices to complete a full array of tasks, including accessing news from a variety of sources, as highlighted in iResearch’s report on the “China Mobile Internet Market 2011.” Multimedia According to iResearch, the number of video users in China is expected to reach nearly 500 million by 2013, representing a huge opportunity that should not be overlooked. With non-Chinese video sites such as YouTube Major Multimedia Sites blocked in China, posting multimedia content to them with hopes to reach Chinese netizens from the mainland would be for naught. China, however, has an array of video-sharing sites equivalent to YouTube. Given the increasing popularity of social media content, it’s valuable and essential for SEO success to have video content present on the major multimedia sites in China. It also ensures the other Chinese platforms can play videos directly.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 9
  10. 10. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World Reiterating the importance of the online audience in China, a recent iResearch report analyzing the China advertising market reveals that internet advertising in 2011, for the first time, surpassed newspaper advertising. Accounting for a whopping US$8.11 billion, the figure represents a staggering 57.3% increase over 2010, with iResearch forecasting it will double again by 2013. Successful Media Relations & Communications in China General Do’s and Don’t’s > Do write your messaging in Chinese whenever possible; English is not common at all. > Do respect China and Chinese consumers and watch them respect you back. > Do think viral – interactive, multimedia content works best. > Do use an integrated strategy and be active across platforms. > Do engage with your stakeholders; put in the leg work and reap the benefits. > Do carefully define your target audience and carefully select the right media to reach them. > Do write your messages in an easy to understand format. > Do remember that China is a large, diverse country, where trends and cultures can vary from region to region. > Do take the time to learn the traditional and online media that are important to your business. > Don’t offer English only content and then wonder why it failed to gain traction. > Don’t criticize aspects of China that differ from the West. > Don’t presume text only content will get you the same level of results. > Don’t rely on just one type of media to get your message out there. > Don’t think one message will win over people - even the top brands need to work at it. > Don’t underestimate the need to target the smaller, niche media points. > Don’t use jargon unless you want to alienate a large percentage of the population. > Don’t presume one size fits all – you may need to alter messages and strategies in different cities and regions. > Don’t think you can rely on Western media - traditional or online – to reach Chinese audiences. Top Tips for Writing Press Releases > Keep your headlines short – under 20 characters is best, as many sites have limitations regarding what they’ll accept. > Understand your target audience and write copy that will be interesting and relevant. > Try to include a local contact person. The journalist will be far more likely to follow up.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 10
  11. 11. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World > Keywords are important, so think about how English content is translated; use native speakers or translators that can be trusted. > Localize your content whenever possible, tailoring content so that it stands out and shows effort. Top Tips for Building Media Relationships > Personal relationships are key; work at building a network (“guanxi”). > Be proactive and research information about media points that are of interest – journalists will appreciate you far more if you know something about them and it will also protect you against those with bad reputations. > Be active in your communications, answer questions and don’t be afraid to follow- up via telephone. > Use social media platforms to build lasting relationships – these are growing in influence and also offer great ways to build relationships with other key influencers. > Media events and face-to-face meetings are still important tools for building trusting relationships and shouldn’t be ignored. Top Tips for Getting Noticed Online > If serious about the Chinese market, optimize your website in Mandarin Chinese. > Search remains a key tool for both consumers and journalists, so ensure content is SEO-friendly, remembering dominates the search engine market and has its own unique search rules – don’t presume Google search rules work as well for Baidu. > Traditional media currently remain the most important and influential, and major portals also aggregate their content, so they continue to offer the best ROI - don’t ignore them. > Utilize images and video to your advantage. You’re much more likely to get noticed and shared if you do. > The major blogs and social media platforms carry a lot of weight with search engines, and such content can be easily searched, so make sure you are on them. Success Stories at a Glance We’ve addressed much of what a company must understand about the media landscape in China, as well as offered best practice advice to develop a strong foundation for communication success. The next section showcases some examples of companies that have utilized these suggestions and have succeeded, as a result. The companies highlighted took the time to ensure they utilized the best network available for their PR initiatives and reaped the benefits of their efforts.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 11
  12. 12. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World Wal-Mart (Traditional Media) While likely to be of great interest to the Chinese media, when Wal-Mart announced their new China CEO, they were proactive in preparing journalists with the right facts and information about the announcement by disseminating a timely press release to all major media points across China. Additionally, Wal-Mart posted the announcement to key weibo feeds, resulting in significant earned media; securing coverage in both traditional and new media including the Southern Metropolitan Daily. Accenture (Social Media) Accenture has enjoyed success in China by incorporating multimedia content into their messages and engaging audiences through social media. When a press release about a new business development program was posted to SINA Weibo, aside from the excellent organic search results, it was forwarded on SINA Weibo over 500 times and received many positive comments from the weibo community. adidas (Multimedia) adidas has achieved regular communication success in China, predominantly through use of multimedia. adidas rarely issues a press release without an engaging photo or video to generate interest and gain traction. By sending out multimedia news releases, adidas is able to reach all the media types mentioned in this white paper, while also greatly improving their natural search results. Multimedia content is also far more likely to be shared amongst online communities and this is a great way to increase awareness and garner even more interest. Conclusion The media landscape in China is quite complex and constantly evolving, as attitudes and policies continue to change. Online and mobile media are definitely stamping their mark, but it would be foolish to ignore the importance of the traditional news media. As in the United States, cultivating strong relationships with the media is essential, while building “guanxi” or leveraging the network of an agency or service provider is critical to success. The Chinese are unique and therefore the approach to business is too. Though it may seem obvious, those who do not embrace the innate cultural differences, will fail. China can offer incredible business opportunity, if you are willing to embrace the differences and adapt accordingly.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 12
  13. 13. ............White Paper Navigating China’s Complex Media Landscape We Tell Your Story to the World About PR Newswire in China Over the last ten years PR Newswire has committed itself to building up a comprehensive network of professional media and key influentials across China, helping companies from around the world to communicate and engage with those who matter most. Now with offices in key locations throughout China, PR Newswire is expertly positioned to offer the best in-country support possible, and remains the only major newswire service to have full operations in China that includes 24-hour editorial teams. Through our proprietary distribution platform, PR Newswire helps deliver your messages to China’s print and broadcast newsrooms, journalists, bloggers, financial portals, social media networks, web sites, content syndicators and search engines in a full SEO-friendly XHTML format. This network includes 15,000+ journalists representing 4,500 +media agencies, which include 800 general media, 3,700 trade publications, 3,000+ websites and 50 foreign news media. PR Newswire’s extensive portfolio of localized services include distribution, monitoring and engagement tools to ensure successful targeting and ROI, including full text distributions, Multimedia News Releases, Online Media Monitoring Services, Chinese ProfNet, China SocialPost™ and Print Media Clipping Services.Copyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved. 13
  14. 14. ............ We Tell Your Story to the World Beijing:+86-10 5953 9588 Shanghai:+86-21 6137 0118 Shenzhen:+86-755 8203 7494 Chengdu:+86-28 8511 4629 Hangzhou:+86-571 8821 9685 www.prnasia.comCopyright © 2012 PR Newswire Association LLC. All Rights Reserved.