By Invitation: Sebastian Huber on Foreign Media In China

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Business is increasingly done without regard to national borders, and what a company does, or is perceived to do, in one market may be scrutinized in another. This might not be a problem but, where “normal business practices” differ (as in China vs. the West), companies can find they have to deal with a range of problems from angry stakeholders to attacks on their brand – things that Apple, Danone, Google, and others have found to their cost in the recent past.

Sebastian Huber is an MBA graduate of a dual degree programme as Master / MBA in International Business and Economics (MIBE) – China Focus at Universität Hamburg and Fudan University Shanghai. An article (a version of which appeared in the Shanghai Economist in November), based on his interesting paper about the borderless impact of foreign media covering international businesses in China follows:

    China is Big News

    Visibility with Foreign Media in China
    Over the recent years and particularly since China’s admission to the World Trade Organisation in 2001, the international media reports increasingly on events in China. This growing global visibility presents both a challenge and a threat to multinational enterprises with a subsidiary in China. With their successes and failures, they are much in the spotlight of the international media and their reader base.

    Media Relations Management Challenge
    Media relations officers in China face a more dynamic and developing media industry than elsewhere. A rapidly changing landscape with only few national players characterizes the local Chinese media. Blending commercial and journalistic activities are still common place and need to be addressed.
    Research Recommendations for Multinational Enterprises

    There are many opportunities for MNEs with the media – both in the local market in China as well as with the international media reporting from China to the world. For being successful in relations with the international media, management should:

    • Develop a strategy how to contact, inform and cooperate with the international media currently on site in China. There are just about 700 foreign journalists in China right now; working successfully with these journalists can prove very valuable.

    • Allocate the media function as a staff function with the local management to assure it receives attention across departments and from the executives.

    • The media relation officer staffing is decisive. Best practice suggests running the local media relations operationally by a Chinese member of staff, but having both a Chinese and a foreign spokesperson available to cater for local and international media needs.

    • Identify communication opportunities where you can contribute a wider China experience, industry expertise or include a message from the expatriate and MNE community to the local or international media.

    • The local Chinese market is different from other markets in many ways. These differences are determinant and also have influence on the foreign journalists operating in China. Tap into the local market know-how of a Chinese member of staff or a local PR agency for advice and guidance.

    • Use events and personal one-on-one interviews with executives frequently. Personality does matter and events are very popular.”

Further information on the research conducted at Fudan University in Shanghai is available from the author: Sebastian Huber, MBA:

For those who want to watch media and public relations issues in China, the Imagethief blog provides regular (and entertaining) insight. It also recently flagged an interesting new blog, The China Beat which looks at foreign media coverage of China.

One Response to “By Invitation: Sebastian Huber on Foreign Media In China”

  1. Politics » By Invitation: Sebastian Huber on Foreign Media In China Says:

    […] er on Foreign Media In China Posted in Uncategorized by on the January 31st, 2008 Administrator wrote an interesting post today […]

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