MSL China Executive WhitepaperPR and the Party- the truth about media relations in China    By Bill Adams, Catherine Cao, ...
Chinese Media                                                                                                        – Sta...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China Executive Whitepaper                                                                                            ...
MSL China regularly publishes Executive Whitepapers with insightsand comments on trends, the industry and society as a who...
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PR and the Party - The Truth About Media Relations In China


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The latest whitepaper from MSL China, share insights on the Chinese Media Landscape, as well as best practices in Chinese communications for marketeers.

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PR and the Party - The Truth About Media Relations In China

  1. 1. MSL China Executive WhitepaperPR and the Party- the truth about media relations in China By Bill Adams, Catherine Cao, Linda Du and Charlotta Lagerdahl
  2. 2. Chinese Media – State Controlled or Freewheeling Tabloids? As China becomes more important to MNC’s, Communications and Public AffairsAbout MSL China executives at global headquarters are being asked to provide support for companyFollowing the union with Eastwei MSL, MSL China is now a top 5 international strategic communications business plans in China, as well as ensuring that local political or market issues doagency in Mainland China. With 200 colleagues across 4 offices, MSL China brings together over not negatively influence global business or their reputation. Most business failures in20 senior consultants with more than 12 years of strategic communications experience in this key China – from market entry difficulties or blocked mergers & acquisitions, to productglobal market. Part of MSLGROUP Greater China, the largest PR & social media network in the region flops and media crises – are due to strategic misalignment and lack of communicationtoday, MSL China provides knowledge driven, integrated campaigns and advisory services spanning between head office and local management. These problems could have been avoided ifnearly every industry and communications discipline. MSL China has received recognition from the communications leaders at headquarters had been more in touch with their local proxiesInternational Business Awards, The Holmes Report’s “PR Agency of the Year,” the China International and had a better understanding of the market.PR Association and China’s New Media Festival for its creativity and effectiveness in strategiccommunications and industry-leading social media offering. Invariably, corporate heads of communications must rely on local colleagues and consultants for support. But the Chinese communications landscape is complex, fluid, and often contradictory – how can you evaluate communication plans and messages in a market characterized by state censorship and a sensationalizing, profit-driven media serving the world’s largest group of Internet users and consumers? And when things go wrong, and you’re the one in headquarters explaining to your CEO why ChineseAbout MSLGROUP newspapers or bloggers have placed your brand in the crosshairs, will you be able toMSLGROUP is Publicis Groupe’s speciality communications and engagement group, advisors in all explain how the Chinese media works and why it behaves the way it does?aspects of communication strategy: from consumer PR to employee communications, from publicaffairs to reputation management and from crisis communications to event management. With more At MSL China we believe that in order to be effective in China, global PR and PA leadersthan 3,000 people, its offices span 22 countries. Adding affiliates and partners into the equation, need to:MSLGROUP’s reach increases to 4,000 employees in 83 countries. Today the largest PR network inGreater China and India, the group offers strategic planning and counsel, insight-guided thinking andbig, compelling ideas – followed by thorough execution. · Understand which media are important and why · Know how Chinese media differ from their counterparts in the WestLearn more about us at: · Apply best global PR practices adapted to local market Twitter YouTube This whitepaper, based on nearly two decades of advising multinational companies in China, provides some guidelines and best practices for accomplishing these goals. We have structured it as a “China media primer” for global communications executives; providing local context and suggestions for how to best navigate the media market.
  3. 3. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 5Media Landscape Business News Media During the 1990s, China’s market economy began to expand rapidly and business media flourished along with it.With the world’s third largest advertising market, print, broadcast and digital media While chief editors in other sectors remained hyper-sensitive to government controls in the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen Square events of 1989, those in business media were given more leeway to operate and coverare thriving in China. Even with the active participation of propagandists and censors, capital markets and at times act as watchdogs for the fledgling market economy. The China Securities RegulatoryChina’s hybrid of state-controlled and commercial media is an incubator for fledgling Commission (CSRC), the PRC’s equivalent of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, explicitly supportedmedia empires, muck-raking journalists and cutting-edge Internet platforms. Below business media serving as “unofficial regulators” to monitor financial a description of key media channels for corporate communications and marketing Many of today’s most talented Chinese journalists launched their careers in the business press, which at thecampaigns. time offered higher salaries and more freedom to operate. By 2000, with economic reforms bolstered by China’s preparations to enter the W TO, “ ..most talented Chinese business media diversified andNewspapers others looking for the latest information and insights on government policies and data, cannot afford to ignore the official newspapers. PR professionals and marketers journalists launched their multiplied with many new titles reporting on the wider aspects of in China are keenly aware of the value of appealing to careers in the business press ” China’s political economy. However, while the government values the roleChina is a leading newspaper market with over 2,000 both categories in order to reach a broad readership. of an independent press in a market economy, it still favors its own media and uses these resources to maintain itsin print and over 100 million total copies sold daily influence. For example, the CSRC designates certain papers and magazines, such as the China Security News and the(compared to less than 1,500 in the United States and Most newspapers are localized, and different regions Security Times as the only official forums for listed companies to disclose financial reports and official statements.51 million total copies sold daily). Unlike their Western have distinctive characteristics. For example, Beijingpeers, Chinese newspapers papers tend to be moreare not in financial distress; “ Most newspapers politically oriented; Guangzhou,print news media are still veryhealthy. are localized ” on the other hand borders freewheeling Hong Kong, so its newspapers often push the limits of governmentAlthough most media in China are ultimately state- censors. Every major city has one or two local papersowned, newspapers and magazines can be divided into with wide distribution, but few reach national audiences.two categories: official state-run and independent- Like their peers in the West, most people in China tendcommercial. Almost all of the independent-commercial to read their local paper.publications are part of media groups led by Party orgovernment newspapers, but they behave differently. This provincial focus remains in place even though mostBoth kinds of newspapers must compete in the market, local newspapers host dynamic websites. However, therely on circulation and advertisement for revenue, and Internet has changed the way stories travel inside China.are subject to the same system of censorship. However, A popular story can quickly become national news, evenofficial newspapers are older, conservative institutions when local cadres attempt to suppress it. For example,that tend to act as the mouthpieces of the government when Xiamen officials attempted to use local mediaor Party; whereas independent-commercial papers werecreated after a wave of commercialization spurred by to downplay protests over perceived dangers of a local chemical factory, the story was widely covered by other Top 20 Newspapers by Circulationeconomic reforms and are more consumer driven. newspapers around the country and spread despite the local efforts to suppress it. 1. Reference News (参考消息) 3,180,000 13. Yanzhao Metropolis News (燕赵都市报) 995,000While both categories of newspapers are capable of 2. People’s Daily (人民日报) 2,800,000 14. Qianjiang Evening (钱江晚报) 951,000producing a professional level of journalism, official Other developments to note: most major newspapers 3. Yangtze Evening Post (扬子晚报) 1,800,000 15. Urban Express (都市快报) 950,000media tend to be fairly sanitized, and the independent- now provide an online version; some use Weibo (a 4. Guangzhou Daily (广州日报) 1,680,000 16. This Evening (今晚报) 910,000commercial outlets can verge on the sensational. Chinese equivalent of Twitter) and other social media 5. Information Times (信息时报) 1,480,000 17. Peninsula City Daily (半岛都市报) 900,000Consumers gravitate towards the independent- accounts. Many – such as CBN Weekly, Oriental Morning 6. South Metropolis News (南方都市报) 1,400,000 18. Southern Daily (南方日报) 850,000commercial newspapers because of their hard-won Post, and China Daily – have iPad or iPhone apps as well. 7. Yangcheng Evening News (羊城晚报) 1,170,000 19. Wuhan Evening (武汉晚报) 850,000reputation for investigative journalism and tantalizingcontent. However, bureaucrats, business leaders, and 8. Chutian Dushibao (楚天都市报) 1,140,000 20. Dahe News (大河报) 830,000 9. News Express (新快报) 1,130,000 10. Qilu Evening News (齐鲁晚报) 1,050,000 Source: Baidu Zhidao (Media claims of their size of circulation 11. Global Times (环球时报) 1,040,000 are unverifiable; this list is for reference only and indicates 12. Xinmin Evening News (新民晚报) 998,000 relative market position of China’s leading newspapers.)
  4. 4. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 7Lifestyle Internet Television In a US context, this would be akin to combining the three major networks under one company and placing it under the management of the Federal CommunicationsMedia Portals State-controlled television is king in China. It is the farthest-reaching medium, penetrating into 97% of all Commission. While every province has its own network for hosting local channels and programming, CCTV is the only national network.Lifestyle media in China have proliferated along with The largest commercial news websites in China arethe growth of the Chinese middle-class and consumerculture. Many of the West’s leading lifestyle magazines, owned by Sina, Sohu, Netease and QQ, the first three of which are listed on NASDAQ. Second only to television, “ Television is king in China ” Although CCT V is the reigning king, provincial and municipal networks haveincluding Cosmopolitan, VOGUE, GQ, Men’s Health, Elle, these portals are key sources of information in China – Chinese households. In 2010, television captured 76% of gained national audiences via cable and satellite. Someand Harpers Bazaar now produce Chinese editions. the first place younger and more highly educated people China’s $96 billion advertising market. However, despite such upstarts have proven to be significant challengers.Due to their reputation as premium international go for news. Since government regulations prevent its staggering ubiquity, television lacks a strong hold on Hunan Satellite Television’s Super Girls, an Americanpublications and their readership’s high income level, these sites from producing their own news, they have some important niche audiences. Because programming Idol-like talent contest, became the nation’s number onethese publications have among the highest advertising become aggregators of content, compiling stories from is understood to be strictly censored, younger and series. The final episode drew over 400 million viewers,revenues in the market. Meanwhile, China’s homegrown other media while allowing Internet users to voice their more highly educated demographics tend to trust it making it one of the most popular shows in Chineselifestyle media remain the most adept at using local opinions through blogs, micro-blogs and electronic less than the middle-aged and older generations do broadcast history. The show consequently drew officialinsight to catch reader attention, and offer their glossies bulletin boards. Blogging and micro-blogging have (especially as a source for news). As in the West, Chinese and public criticism for promoting "vulgarity". Eventuallyat lower prices. become especially popular in China as many journalists television faces fierce competition from online news and the SARFT issued a regulation barring the primetime blog to share views they might otherwise be unable to entertainment. airing of “all talent shows with mass participation… viaBecause young Chinese consumers are, in the vast express in their full-time media jobs. satellite TV channels at provincial or vice-provincialmajority of cases, the first generation in their family The bureaucratic and political nature of China’s television level". Critics argue that the SARFT issued this regulationto enjoy high disposable incomes, they have a Web portals such as Sina and Sohu can be regarded industry is reflected in its organizational structure. The as a result of CCTV lobbying to protect its position as thevoracious appetite for topics such as fashion trends, as just another form of “traditional” media, but China top player in the market is China Central Television market technologies, and health & leisure. Case in point: is also a leading social media market – more than 265 (CCT V), which is directly controlled by the Stateby focusing on advising nouveau riche men on which million people log on to the Chinese equivalents of Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).clothes and Yo u Tu b e , F a c e b o o k ,accessories “ many journalists maintain Tw i t te r, a n d L i n ke d I n .to wear, which blogs and microblogs to Social media have alreadycars to driveand what ultra- share views ” become a critical area for all communications Post-Mao Media Reforms and Milestonesstylish cutting- professionals, andedge smart phone will best help them to manage their no media strategy is complete without them. (Seelives, fashion magazines for men have achieved an MSL China’s whitepaper Best Practices in Chineseannual growth rate of more than 30% in China since Microblog Communications for more information on this2006. fast-changing topic.) 1979 – Newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations allowed to sell advertising; 69 newspapers nationwide, all run by government officials of the Communist Party. 1980s – Government begins to cut subsidies for state-controlled media. 1983 – Media outlets permitted to profit from ad sales. 1990s – Government phases-out subsidies for all but a select few state-controlled media, mouthpieces such as Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily. 2003 – Communist Party ends mandatory subscriptions to most official party newspapers and magazines; subsidies to some government mouthpieces are phased out. 2009 – Regulations ban websites from conducting online polls on current events; Internet users are required to use real names when posting responses to news stories. 2011 – Market has over 2,200 newspapers, 9,000 magazines, and 500 million Internet users.
  5. 5. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 9PR in the PRCCommunications and Public Affairs in China share fundamentals with the West;professionalism, relationships, and the right message are what matter most. That said, PRin China is unique for three main reasons: a single party monopolizes politics; commercialmedia outlets are relatively new and developing institutions; and the economy is growingrapidly. When building and executing any communications strategy under such conditions,it is imperative to consider the risks associated with government influence, marketmaturity, and the potential for corruption.The Party-state’s Influenceon MediaNo analysis of China’s media landscape would be complete without a description of how media are controlled by theParty and state. China’s media controls are primarily political, rather than commercial, in nature. As a result, MNCsoperating in China have, by default, become a favorite target for criticism and negative press. The media space thatwould otherwise be allocated to discussing the effectiveness of government policies and political scandals has tobe filled with something; and because consumers are highly aware of famous brands, media discussions on thosebrands and what they are doing in China, for better or worse, remain a hot topic. It is also important to keep in mind generated. This is a much more sophisticated approach than the traditional force-feeding of messages to the public.that anything, from the price of your products to your HR policies, your company’s nation of origin, or a planned In short, the Party now tends to participate in the conversation as an authoritative source, rather than broadcastingacquisition, could suddenly turn into a political problem. All communications professionals dealing with the China its messages as indisputable truths. This also means that the Party sometimes hides its presence while participatingmarket need to have a basic understanding of how the media are controlled by the state. in the conversation. For example,A central question in China’s communications industry is how to create and maintain market-driven and profitable “ …the Party now tends to a given journalist or online commentator may not have overtmedia outlets, but which do not question the Party’s authority. China’s Chief Propagandist, Li Changchun, has stated participate in the conversation Party or government credentials,that the essence of his job is to unite the “spirit” of the Party with public opinion. This is accomplished through twomain strategies: The Three Closenesses, a broad principle that sets guidelines for all media, and Public Opinion as an authoritative source ” but could be serving as a proxy.Channeling, a recipe for how the Party leverages its command over media while allowing a relatively high degree offreedom. Media Controls in ActionThe Three Closenesses principle – being close to reality, close to life, and close to the masses – was launched bythe Party Central Committee after the ascent of the Hu Jintao administration in 2003. It is a call for all journalistsand media to accurately reflect the needs of Chinese society. It is taken to mean that official media should notlimit themselves to stale coverage of government leaders’ activities, the latest official pronouncements, and otherpolitically homogenized content, but neither should commercial media “over-sensationalize” events just to sell more Treatment of a major railway accident in Wenzhou in July 2011 is an example of China’s attempts at publiccopies or advertisements. The policy is a two-pronged approach to make state-run media more competitive while opinion control and the ‘Three Closenesses’. After allowing several days of active media scrutiny and publicencouraging tabloids to take responsibility for accurate reporting and steer clear of inflammatory political discourse. venting online via tens of millions of Weibo (microblog) postings, the government ordered journalists to cease reporting on questioning eyewitness accounts. (The disaster caused an estimated 40 casualties and 200Opinion Channeling is an attempt to leverage China’s dynamic media to benefit political stability. Rather than directly injured.) Instead, the spotlight was shifted to coverage of "touching stories", such as local villagers rescuingprohibiting specific statements and/or topics, the Party, through its Propaganda Department, actively pushes a passengers and blood donations from sympathetic citizens. The directive stated that further reporting ongeneral agenda that more subtly influences the content and quality of Chinese media. This strategy is a response tothe commercialization of information and the rapid development of new outlets and technologies like social media the accident should be in the spirit of ‘major love in the face of major disaster’ and ordered "Do not question.and mobile devices. In cases of sensitive incidents, such as ethnic riots or tainted food, the Party attempts to get Do not elaborate. No re-posting from micro-blogs will be allowed!" Furthermore, the directive forbade newsahead of the story. By creating timely messages delivered through the most popular channels, mass coverage is media from other provinces from sending reporters to the scene of the accident and stated that commercial media and online portals in particular must carefully manage their behavior.
  6. 6. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 11Maturing Market CorruptionIn the 1980s, there was a systemic over-reliance on paid-for Chinese media coverage. When the PR industry began While some companies continue to take shortcuts that may produce superficial, short-term results, it is no longerto emerge in China, most people, including industry professionals, interpreted public relations to mean simply possible for enterprises and PR companies to build sustainable and valuable media relations through guanxi orguanxi, or “relationships” – the Chinese social custom of networking and favor mongering. This misunderstanding payoffs. Unfortunately, the incentive for businesses and media outlets to forge corrupt business relationshipsof the communications profession was compounded by a lack of business ethics and journalistic guidelines in a through bribery remains a characteristic of the industry in today’s China.rapidly developing commercial media industry. The “pay-to-play” phenomenon became especially prevalent in the1990s. The use of gifts or cash incentives between companies and PR representatives became a common way of Last year, the government confirmed that Zijin Mining Group, the country’s biggest gold producer, had tried to bribeinducing journalists to write favorable stories. Some revenue hungry local media in second- and third-tier cities, as reporters from Shanghai Securities News and the Xiamen Evening News to hush up a major toxic waste leak at thewell as some trade media, still behave this way today. However, with the development of the market economy, there company’s copper mine in Fujian province. In another case, a product manager from the Chinese dairy producerhas been a surge in competition. The Internet has become a serious competitor of traditional media, and audiences Mengniu Dairy Group and a representative from the company’s local PR agency were arrested for spreadingare becoming increasingly discerning. These factors challenge media on all fronts to attract readers through malicious rumors online, claiming that a competitor’s products were harmful by alleging there was a chemical thatviable, integrated content. Moreover, a gradual push for reporters and editors to become more sophisticated and caused premature sexual development in children. See the box below on media blackmail about another commonprofessional is now evident – just as in more developed markets where PR professionals are expected to pitch a great industry hazard.story that can hook a reader’s attention inorder to be effective. “ PR professionals now need While the media industry in China is still occasionally marred by unprofessional, unethical and even illegal practices, to pitch a great story ” at MSL China, we believe that the only way to build good media relations, and ultimately a strong reputation for your brand, is by providing journalists with insights and valuable information. This approach needs to be founded on a deep understanding of local media, our clients and their industries, as well as the mindset, habits, and preferences of consumers and other stakeholders. We call this “Knowledge-Driven Media Relations” (KDMR). During the past decade, MSL China has applied our KDMR philosophy for all of our clients with great success. We see this as the main reason why our agency has grown faster than any other international agency in China. At a glance, our approach may seem like standard operating procedure. By tailoring this global approach to China, however, we help our clients to create a unique and sustainable competitive advantage over less sophisticated local and multinational competitors. Media Blackmail It can happen like this: the PR manager of a famous MNC opens a local newspaper or trade publication to discover a reporter has trashed their company or product. After making a few calls the PR manager finds the journalist who wrote the negative story never contacted anyone from the MNC to get their side of the story. Extremely concerned, the PR manager calls the journalist to find out what prompted the attack on his brand. The journalist replies, “Oh, I heard some rumors in the market from my sources… would you like me to do a follow-up story to clarify the situation? By the way, do you mind talking to my advertising department first? If you place an ad in our publication, we could certainly make room for another article about your company and its success in the market.” Here’s what you can do about it: - Proactively build and manage your reputation in the market; if you have a solid reputation you can weather a few unsubstantiated attacks from small voices in the media. - If this is an important media source for you, and you or your agency has been diligent in building your network, you can try going over the journalist’s head and diplomatically raise the issue with the editor, but this is useless if the editor is in on the game. - You can try the court system, but libel cases are extremely hard to win; and you run the risk of blowing a relatively small issue out of proportion. - China’s Consumer Day is March 15; this day is a media feeding frenzy on product quality and safety issues. Any consumer product company in China must have a strategy in place for monitoring and rapid response.
  7. 7. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 13 3. Build and Nurture Guanxi example, a journalist on the energy beat may want to know about the interaction between oil prices and capital markets, while a healthcare journalist may be interested 3 Insight, strategy, and appealing messages are critical, in the sociological aspects of, as well as the latest global but relationships are and will remain important in advances in, the treatment of a particular disease. China. Journalists do not want to be “taken for granted” They will be highly appreciative when your company and want to know you care about them as people and offers them a short training seminar instead of a press as professionals, and they want to know what’s going conference. on at your company even when there is no “news” to publish. Any ongoing media outreach program should Over the years, we have seen that such investments tend be based on regular visits, news updates, and other to pay off because they establish you as a trusted source. points of contact to keep the relationship warm. Too Whenever journalists need more information about your many PR managers in China take a “transactional” industry, you will be the first person they call for a quote. approach, expecting every contact with a journalist to Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of a result in coverage. But in fact, one of the best ways to systematic approach to guanxi. In a rapidly developing build an emotional connection with journalists is to market like China, both PR managers and journalists share knowledge, not just about your company but also tend to move from one employer to another. For this very"We Understand" about your industry. This is especially useful because reason, successful companies and PR agencies must many journalists in China are young and often have not take a state-of-the art, database-driven CRM approach to received much training from their organization – they media relations. may be eager to learn more about macro issues. For- MSL China’s KDMR Methodology in ChinaIn the following, we share some of the best practices and recommendations garnered 4. Create Your Own Media 5. Don’t Ever Be Tempted By orfrom two decades of working with the Chinese media. Tolerate Unethical PR Practices 4 5 With the expansion of today’s digital media platforms and technologies, most of the world’s leading companies Positive news coverage can be bought in China - each1. Understand Local Target 2. Develop Tailored News Angles have developed content-rich websites intricately year, a few journalists and PR managers are chargedAudiences, Industry, and Media that Catch Media Attention interwoven with social media, allowing them to broadcast with corrupt “pay-to-play” practices. It is important to their messages 24/7. However, most MNCs have not understand that, although some local practitioners 1 2 made corresponding investments in China. Local condone this practice, it is an approach that does notIt may sound standard, but many multinational It used to be much easier for MNCs in China to grab corporate websites and social media initiatives could deliver the best long-term results and violates Chinesecompanies fail to properly analyze who they need to headlines. A decade ago, a CEO visit or a multi-million benefit from simply reapplying the best practices from law. So even if your competitors attack you by payingcommunicate to through local media, which factors dollar investment would ensure that journalists took global markets, while sourcing strong, locally-relevant journalists for negative coverage about your company orare shaping their company’s industry in China, and how notice of your company. Not anymore. As official and content to effectively engage local audiences. This is a start negative rumors online, it pays off in the long runjournalists perceive and report on the company and its independent-commercial media compete for consumer giant missed opportunity for multinational companies to take the high moral road. Letting the market lowercompetitors. This is a simple and logical cornerstone of attention, successful communications in China will – most job seekers and business journalists in China your standards of practice can be costly; there are legalany communications campaign, yet it is still surprising depend on appealing to and aligning with a complicated conduct in-depth reviews of corporate websites. Making penalties as well as huge reputational risks. Every year,how frequently PR managers in China are unwilling to mix of government agendas, social concerns, broad sure that your owned media are up to snuff gives you an MSL China consultants are asked to support companiesinvest in it because they think their brand, their guanxi, or groups of constituents such as JV partners and influential excellent channel for communicating your commitment who have run into trouble in China after following thesome other factor will be enough to generate favorable organizations, and geographically relevant audiences. to the market, promoting your CSR programs, and bad advice of local PR representatives.coverage. There are many ways of achieving deeper The latter is important as China is a large and diverse attracting increasingly scarce local talent.understanding; focus groups with consumers, media country. MSL China consultants have helped clients tailoraudits to gauge journalist and trend-setting perceptions, messages to key audiences to reflect alignment with theas well as traditional and social media reviews to see government’s latest Five-Year Plan; created social mediawhat’s already available in print or in the blogosphere. addressing the wide generation gap between Chinese born in the 70s, 80s and 90s; and provided consumer information for a mixture of technology aficionados and neo-luddites.
  8. 8. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 15Media Profiles Global Times (环球时报) (est. 1993, circ. 1.04 million)The following is a general lay of the land for Chinese news media. Included are Part of the People’s Daily Media Group, this daily is dedicated to delivering international news and reportingdescriptions of a few influential newspapers, business and lifestyle publications, online on China’s engagement with the world. In 2009 the paper launched an English edition as part of the Chineseportals, and television networks. Since this is a general overview, we do not delve into government’s growing interest in spreading its views in international forums; this publication focuses more on business and economics and is an alternative English-language media to China Daily. Despite its affiliation with thevertical media such as automotive, technology and healthcare, although these are vibrant main Party mouthpiece, Global Times is relatively outspoken and sometimes publishes muck-raking or controversialand highly influential in their respective sectors. articles. Guangzhou Daily (广州日报) (est. 1952, circ. 1.6 million) The official publication of the Guangzhou Municipal Government, Guangzhou Daily focuses on local news andNewspaper Profiles information, and is one of the most popular mainstream media in southern China, boasting one of the largest circulations among dailies in the entire country. Despite being an official publication, it is highly readable, focusing on lifestyle and popular news, especially local information from the Pearl River Delta area.Cankao Xiaoxi (参考消息) (est. 1931, circ. 3 million) Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报) (est. 1997, circ. 1.4 million)Published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, Cankao Xiaoxi is one of China’s leading national daily newspapers. Its Distributed mainly in the Pearl River Delta area, this commercial newspaper is known for its hard-hitting investigativeoriginal purpose was to serve as an internal global news report for the PRC’s political elite. Since 1985, its distribution journalism and edgy commentary. Its editors and journalists frequently come under fire from the authorities. As onehas been widened to the general public. Cankao Xiaoxi contains translations of news articles and commentaries from of the nation’s largest and most influential newspapers, its reports are reprinted in many smaller regional mediaforeign news agencies and newspapers. Although its content primarily consists of accurate translations of the original outlets.source material, it runs its own headlines, creates its own captions, and often deletes references unfavorable toChinas image. Beijing Evening News (北京晚报) (est. 1958, circ. 1.2 million)People’s Daily (人民日报) (est. 1948, circ. 2.8 million) Inexpensive and readable, the Beijing Evening News is one of the capital’s most popular dailies – especially with older readers. However the Beijing Evening News faces challenges from other emerging general newspapers and onlineA newspaper under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Peoples Daily distributes the portals, and its circulation has been declining.latest news and policy information of the Party and government and major domestic and international news releasesfrom China. It is the mouthpiece of the CPC and distinctly patriotic in tone. MNCs achieving positive coverage inPeople’s Daily can be perceived in the market as being in favor with the Party and government. In addition to its main Beijing Times (京华时报) (est. 2001, circ. 800,000)Chinese-language edition, it has editions in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. It also has an Comparatively lowbrow, the Beijing Times mostly covers local news and reacts quickly to breaking news, includingon-line version,, which is one of the largest Chinese news portals. major political events, crime, and safety issues. It launched a supplement called CSR Weekly in June 2010, with more than 8 pages dedicated to CSR related news, making it a mainstay for corporate PR.China Youth Daily (中国青年报) (est. 1951, circ. 500,000)Run by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, China Youth Daily is a popular official daily West China City Daily (华西都市报) (est. 1995, circ 1.15 million)newspaper and the first independently-operated central government news media portal in the Peoples Republic of Founded in 1995 by former staff members of Sichuan Daily, West China City Daily is the leading paper in China’sChina. Although its large reader base is due in part to mandatory subscriptions at universities and high schools, it is less-developed western region. It is the most popular source of news and information for all market segments in thea high-quality and well-respected newspaper, especially because of its focus on human interest over politics. As with region, from white-collar professionals and luxury brand consumers to government decision-makers.the People’s Daily, positive coverage in this newspaper can provide MNCs in China some political cachet. Oriental Morning Post (东方早报) (est. 2003, circ. 150,000)China Daily (中国日报) (est. 1981, circ. 570,000) Managed by the Wenxin Media Group, this daily is circulated in Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu and ZhejiangThe leading English language daily in China, it is the most popular local newspaper among foreigners living in the provinces. Focusing on national finance and economic news, the target audience of the Oriental Morning Post isPRC. Twenty years ago, China Daily was a dull litany of positive news about China and trite observations of foreign the region’s new generation of upper middle-class residents. The newspaper is known for its professionalism andcountries. Because it is published in English, it receives less scrutiny from censors, so in recent years its editors have integrity; it professes to be the New York Times of China.significantly improved both print and web editions, and it has become a more compelling source of information aboutChina and the world. MNCs and their PR representatives value its coverage of their business and events such as CEOvisits, since headquarters can read the clippings without translation, but its local impact is not as high as Chinese-language papers.
  9. 9. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 17Newswire ProfileXinhua News Agency (新华社) (est. 1931) Caijing (财经) (est. 1998, circ. 225,000)As the state news agency of the People’s Republic of China, Xinhua is the government’s primary collector and As a bi-weekly glossy magazine focusing on the country’s economics and politics, Caijing is one of the leadingdistributor of information in China and the most authoritative source of information on Chinese government affairs. business magazines and is widely quoted by international media such as The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and theEmploying more than 10,000 people in 107 bureaus worldwide, 31 of which are in China, Xinhua News Agency is Financial Times. Its chief editor Hu Shuli and the majority of its staff journalists left the magazine in 2009 due to athe largest wire service in the world. The agency provides daily 24-hour news information to the world in Chinese, dispute over editorial rights. Caijing was once considered to be one of the most aggressive and insightful publicationsEnglish, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Portuguese. As most Chinese newspapers do not have overseas in China but subsequently seems to have lost some of its luster.bureaus, Xinhua is their primary source for international reporting. Just as with other media in China, the governmenthas cut its funding of the agency and it now generates revenue through public relations and information services. In Lifestyle Media Profiles2010, it launched its 24-hour English-language news channel China Xinhua News Network Corporation (CNC World),which is headquartered in Hong Kong. CNC World will reportedly be a strategic focus for Xinhua News Agency in thenext five years. Modern Weekly (周末画报) (est. 1980, circ. 497,500)Business Media Profiles A glossy tabloid published in Guangzhou with a focus on fashion and culture, Modern Weekly is China’s leading paper with weekly distribution. It is well known for its personal interviews and business section. Targeting upper income Chinese and those that inspire to be, it is a favorite advertising platform for luxury, fashion, and other high-end21st Century Business Herald (21世纪经济报道) consumer brands.(est. 2001, circ. 632,000) The Bund (外滩画报) (est. in 2002, circ. 150,000)A member of the Nanfang Daily Group, this paper is published five days a week and is one of the most powerfulfinancial newspapers in China. The paper is known for its aggressive reporting and critical commentary. A pioneer in Named after Shanghai’s famous riverfront, this weekly has a cosmopolitan slant and mainly focuses on the Shanghaithe Chinese media industry, it was the first Mainland financial paper to enter Hong Kong with a special edition for the culture scene. It is popular for its interviews, as well as its fashion and entertainment content. Because of its focus onmarket. It also has bureaus in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Moscow. Shanghai, the magazine is comparable in nature to The New York Times Magazine.Economic Observer (经济观察报) (est. 2001, circ. 380,000) Sanlian Life Weekly (三联生活周刊) (est. 1995, circ. 200,000)A weekly published on Mondays, it strives to distinguish itself from other business media through in-depth analysis Published by the Sanlian Bookstore, a unit of the China Publishing Group in Beijing, this weekly covers politics,and an attractive layout. Providing editorial space for a wide variety of experts and scholars, the magazine focuses on economics, human interest, culture and technology for smart, urban audiences. It can be compared to The Atlanticeconomics, politics, and culture. The paper’s pink-tinted pages evoke those of the UK’s Financial Times and appeals or The New Yorker in the United States. After drawing criticism from censors, it has recently shied away from currentto intellectuals. affairs and reports more on lifestyle related topics targeting the growing Chinese middle class.China Business Journal (中国经营报) (est. 1985, circ. 380,000) Lifestyle (精品购物指南) (est. 1993, circ. 300,000)Published weekly under the direction of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China Business Journal is one Published twice a week in Beijing, with Style Weekly on Monday and Southern Life Weekly on Thursday, Lifestyleof the most influential business and economic magazines, with a strong focus on the topic of business management. includes sections such as Fashion, Hot Topics, Truth, New Knowledge, Showtime, Psychology, Nutrition, Mother andThe paper takes a management perspective and discusses how companies can improve, but without the tabloid Child, Tourism, and Autos. It is affordable and has strong mass appeal.criticism of leaders, business performance or products which is common in other Chinese media. New Weekly (新周刊) (est. 1996, circ. 285,000)China Business News (第一财经日报) (est. 2004, circ. 250,000) Possibly the trendiest of Chinese lifestyle publications, after more than 15 years of development, New Weekly hasLike Bloomberg, the CBN Group operates print and broadcast business news services. The Group’s newspaper, China earned a reputation as a keen observer and reporter of social changes in the country. Based in Guangzhou, NewBusiness News, is published Monday through Saturday; it focuses on breaking news in business, economics, and Weekly is one of the country’s first glossy magazines. A biweekly, it is published on the 1st and 15th of each The Opinions & Comments section penned by guest columnists is increasingly popular with business readers.Many international news media source information from the paper because it is fast and authoritative.
  10. 10. MSL China Executive Whitepaper PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 19I n t e r n e t Po r t a l P r o f i l e s TV Station (新浪) (est. 1999) China Central Television (中国中央电视台) (est. 1958)China’s leading Internet portal is headquartered in Shanghai. According to Alexa, was 14th in the Top Site Based in Beijing, this national network is directly controlled by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Televisionrankings and 3rd in Traffic rankings within China. has over thirty integrated channels, including news, sports, (SARFT). CCTV’s most-watched program is the Network News which broadcasts daily from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m.,technology information, finance, advertising services, entertainment, fashion, and travel. also provides simultaneously on at least one state-run TV channel in every provincial and municipal market. The network’s annualservices such as SMS, email, a search engine, games, entertainment and Sina Blog. The Sina Micro-blog, Weibo, is New Years Gala is also markedly popular, drawing one of the largest TV audiences worldwide with an estimated 700China’s equivalent of Twitter. While Twitter is blocked by local authorities, Sina Weibo and has become hugely popular, million viewers. The network comprises sixteen channels, including CCTV-2, its business channel.quickly amassing over 200 million users, nearly eight times as many as Twitter. According to its 2010 annual report,Sina’s net revenue reached $402 million, showing 12% annual growth. Hunan Television (湖南电视台) (est. 1970) (搜狐) (est. 1996) The hit series Super Girls propelled Hunan TV to become Chinas second biggest television network after CCTV. The network is based in Changsha in Hunan Province and Xining in Qinghai Province. Since 2009, Hunan TV has sold itsWhile is more news focused, its main competitor is more entertainment and lifestyle focused popular programs to markets across East Asia and has signed contracts with international producers to produce andin content. Sohu was ranked as the worlds 3rd and 12th fastest-growing company by Fortune in 2009 and 2010, distribute original programming.respectively. As of August 2010, Sohu is currently 46th overall in Alexas Internet rankings. Sohu was selected byChina’s Olympic authorities to provide exclusive services to construct, operate, and host the official Beijing Olympicswebsite. According to its 2010 annual report, the company’s net revenue was $612.8 million, showing annual growth Phoenix TV (凤凰卫视) (est. 1996)of 19%. This Hong Kong-based Mandarin-Chinese television-broadcaster is permitted to air its news in the PRC – one of the few non-government controlled television broadcasters. Phoenix TV has an excellent relationship with theNetease (网易) (est. 1997) government; its Beijing offices are located in the Diaoyutai state guesthouse. Phoenix TV’s news program has a reputation for covering events and providing perspectives that are not available on other networks, and its announcersOperating the popular portal, the company is different from Sina and Sohu in that the company generates are young and energetic compared to state TV’s homogeneous anchors. Phoenix TV now broadcasts to over 150huge revenues from fees it charges users for hosting online games (including World of Warcraft) and wireless value- countries and regions around the world and has an estimated 300 million viewers, 150 million of whom are in China.added and other fee-based premium services, as well as online advertisement sales. According to its 2010 annual News Corp holds a 17.6% stake in Phoenix Satellite Television Company, the company’s net revenue for the year was nearly $834.5 million. CBN TV (第一财经频道) (est. 2003)Tencent (QQ) (est. 1998) CBN TV is part of the second largest Chinese media group – SMG – and is the only professional Business TV channel(Referred to as “QQ”) QQ is the most popular free instant messaging platform in China. There are over 600 million targeting investors. Broadcasting 20 hours per day with 12 hours of live programs, CBN TV covers core investmentactive QQ users (including QQ IM users), making it one of the worlds largest online communities. In February 2011, markets in China and provides insights from over 30 market traders and security analysts. The channel mainly ranked 10th overall in the Alexa Internet rankings, one place behind Twitter. Aside from its chat program, QQ on finance, markets, and trading information and its portfolio includes programming such as Stock Today and Financehas also developed many other features including a search engine, games, virtual pets, ringtones, and blogs. Night Line. It covers 28 provinces and cities and has 12.9 million viewers in Mainland China, with another 880,000 viewers in Hong Kong. It was the first mainstream TV channel from the Mainland to enter Hong Kong. Dragon TV (东方电视台) (est. 1998) First launched in October 1998 as Shanghai TV, it changed its name to Dragon TV on October 23, 2003. It has the widest broadcast news coverage among the provincial satellite TV stations, and more than six hours of daily live news shows. Currently, Dragon TV’s signal covers most of China, including Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and is also available in North America, Japan, Australia, Europe and other areas. All of Dragon TVs news programs are owned by the parent company SMG TV’s news production center – Asia’s largest television news production and broadcasting organization. Travel Chanel (旅游卫视) (est. 2002) As the only satellite channel focusing on tourism and leisure in China, it garners a large viewership and is a popular advertising platform for high-end brands. The channel also broadcasts global golf and tennis events to support its position as the lifestyle media for China’s rapidly growing middle and upper classes.
  11. 11. MSL China regularly publishes Executive Whitepapers with insightsand comments on trends, the industry and society as a whole.To get information from MSL China or to subscribe to futurewhitepapers, as well as to contact us for any other matter, please sendus an e-mail on greaterchina@mslgroup.comor call us +86 21 5169 9311 (SH) or +86 10 8573 0688 (BJ).MSL China Executive WhitepaperAugust 2011Copyright ® MSL China