5 ways to succeed at Chinese online PR

How other digital marketing methodologies can be used to build a successful Chinese online PR strategy? Whether you are a Western brand with an existing presence in the lucrative Chinese market or looking to break into China with your product offer, the right approach will greatly enhance your marketing efforts and provide measurable results.

Things to know about Chinese online PR

It’s inevitable that Chinese online PR will have some differences with PR in Western markets. Some valuable points to keep in mind are:

1. Chinese customers naturally trust authoritative voices and peer-to-peer recommendations, perhaps more so than in the West.
2. For successful Chinese online PR campaigns, factors such as Chinese online behaviour and cultural differences need to be taken into account; both for user journeys and for content planning.
3. There are 800+ million Chinese internet users and the audience is highly-sophisticated, increasingly middle-class and active on their smartphones. Again, these facts must be considered within your strategic PR plan.

Taking your online PR in China forward

These steps will be of use as you plan your approach.

1. Define your key messages and brand tone of voice

These may need testing with your target Chinese audience, especially to ensure that regionalism, cultural values and other localised factors are taken into account. Key messages that work with a Western audience may not automatically translate as successfully with a Chinese audience.

2. Define your objectives

Chinese online PR can be used to build brand recognition, to grow a reputation in the Chinese market and to support Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing in China. It helps to be clear on your objectives before you begin to deliver work; in order to best measure success.

3. Create content

Yes, you can translate existing content, but it runs the risk of failing to engage with the Chinese audience and falling foul of socio-cultural variables. Just look at beauty products as an example. Many Western customers value a golden tan; but in China, women aspire to have bright, light skin. This type of knowledge makes all the difference between a successful online PR campaign and one that falls flat. There are two recommended ways to approach your content, depending on time, aspiration, resource and budget:

a) Website localisation

Where content already exists in English, some Western brands will seek to translate it for their Chinese audience. Website localisation is an approach that translates and localises a website by ensuring that text, images and videos are correctly translated in a way that is culturally and technically sound, as well as being correct. At Market Me China, we carry this service out for our clients by providing three benchmarks for the best possible localisation results (cultural customisation of content, Chinese UX and translation quality). We can also provide benchmarking against competitors operating in a similar space, to give a more objective assessment of your website’s likely performance in the Chinese market.

b) New targeted content

Other Western brands will seek to create fresh, organic content that is completely bespoke to the Chinese target audience and optimised for Baidu SEO. At Market Me China, we create hot topics and branded press releases as two key examples. There are plenty of opportunities to create this content using trending topics, keywords, national holidays, Chinese events and value-adding subjects that Chinese readers are likely to share.

4. Place content accurately

With over 800+ million internet users in China and countless websites competing for their attention, it’s vital to place content on the right platforms where it will be seen by your target audience, such as portals, vertical media, forums, Q&A. This involves local research and analysis to ensure the best use of your budget and potential return. We also work with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to ensure content is shared to the right networks.

5. Optimise content ranking

There are strategies that can be employed to optimise the ranking of published content on third-party platforms. This Baidu off-site SEO is typically delivered by experts in the field, with specific local knowledge about the algorithms that Chinese search engines such as Baidu employ to favour certain types of content over others.

Your Chinese PR content will need to be published carefully across a chosen mix of third-party platforms, primary portals, vertical media and industrial forums. Additionally, it will need to be placed onto Baidu word-of-mouth platforms such as Baidu Post Bar (Baidu Tieba) and Baidu Q&A.

Do this accurately and your efforts will gain measurable marketing value. The voice of your brand will become widely trusted, authoritative and influential amongst your target Chinese audience; gaining their respect and preference. As your audience searches online in China, it will then see your content and learn more about your brand as it engages with your content.

Planning your timing

When working with our Western clients on Chinese online PR campaigns, we recommend first building a Chinese website before launching the PR activity. This ensures that the brand messages you share across the internet are providing the right visitor experience and matching the brand tone of voice on your landing page with Chinese content that your reader can understand and engage with.

Building a Chinese website for your online PR campaign

The right website will allow you to become a digital hub for your Chinese PR and marketing campaigns. Things to consider include:

– Hosting your Chinese website in China or Hong Kong for local accessibility
– Arranging a Chinese domain for credibility (and considering the right hosting location for accessibility and regulations.)
– Testing for optimum Chinese user experience
– Ensuring that the website’s structure and content is Baidu-friendly for SEO gains

Using expert help

Market Me China are an expert Chinese marketing agency with experience in Chinese online PR. We work with Western clients of all sizes and across a variety of industries to generate a measurable return on their marketing budget. Working as an extension to your existing marketing resource, our team partner with your leads to truly understand your business and marketing objectives, in order to create intelligent, impactful and results-driven Chinese marketing. Whether you need assistance in creating accurate and engaging Chinese content or help to craft and launch an end-to-end Chinese PR strategy that supports a Chinese market campaign, we are here to assist – and our customer testimonials speak for themselves! Please contact us for a no-obligation chat about how we might help you.