In recent years, Chinese enterprises have developed rapidly, and the pace of “going out” has been accelerating and has received great attention from the world. In the process, Chinese companies face a complex international media environment.
From our observations and the experience of client services in both China and Germany, Chinese companies often feel that German media are unfair about the enterprises in their reports. German media often seem to have a preconceived, subjective and critical challenge. However, German journalists often feel that Chinese companies refuse to be in contact and are lack of transparency. Such misunderstandings and limited interaction often bring the relationship between the two parties into a vicious circle.
The common problem among Chinese companies is that they don’t need and don’t know how to deal with overseas media. The thing is: as Chinese companies are becoming more international, they can’t underestimate the importance of maintaining good relationships with overseas media. We hope to give two practical suggestions from the media perspective to help Chinese companies deal with the German media.
See Journalists As Partners, Not Enemy, and Be Open for Communication
First of all, don’t be afraid of the media. The German media does not try to hurt you. We should instead treat them as partners. The main reason for Chinese companies to be afraid of them is mainly because of the limited understanding of the international media environment. In China, Chinese companies may not often take the initiative to communicate with media. Experience in dealing with the media is limited. Once going abroad, Chinese executives do not have sufficient understanding of the western media, and are concerned about negative reports, so they avoid to give comment in public or any opportunity to communicate with media. At the same time, German media’s tend to do researching-and-investigating reports and tend to dive into in-depth issues. German journalist present many sharp and sensitive issues directly and without reservations from different angles; yet, given the Chinese people’s personality and expression which are usually more euphemistic. When facing with such direct inquiries, Chinese companies often feel that they are being challenged or mistaken, and assume the bad intentions behind all the questions, and therefore, they refuse to say more.
Lack of transparency and lack of communication with the media lead to negative results. In fact, once we understand the differences in communication methods between China and Germany, and also understand the local operating environment, we can adjust the response methods accordingly, respond calmly and even discuss how to help companies develop better brand image through media reports.
Respect German Media’s Professionalism and Understand Their Needs
Secondly, learn about German media news guidelines. The German media have extremely strict guidelines on journalism professionalism, objectivity, authenticity and independence. The Chinese media standards that Chinese companies have experienced in China in the past are not applicable in Germany. In China, it is a very common situation for companies to provide journalist fees in order to obtain favorable reports. However, in Germany, openly approach journalists with fees for coverages would rather destroy trust than enhance relationship. When Chinese companies can understand and respect German journalists’ news standards, and learn more about the needs of German journalists to write reports, and timely assist in providing information and materials, this will effectively establish the first step of good media relations.
Let Public Relations Help Manage Your Media Relations
When going global, Chinese companies need to spend a lot of time to build a brand in a new market and gain positive awareness. Therefore, it is necessary to accelerate the shortening of culture differences through professional public relations who is familiar with the local market. Public relations helps craft and localize the brand story, identify proper media and key opinion leaders to tell companies’ stories, create a responsible social image; and understanding the local operating environment, customize local market plans, and deploy effective brand communication activities through media communication. By doing to, it enhances corporate image, strengthens the trust in new markets. Public relations and media communications will enable enterprises to operate better in the international market, and ultimately make enterprises the biggest beneficiaries.