National PR: Chinese Propaganda in the US

When I first saw China Daily, the Chinese government’s English language newspaper, tucked into a copy of The Boston Globe last month, I was – to put it mildly – a little perturbed. What was this propaganda doing in my newspaper? What is China trying to do? Most of all, why does this publication contain zero bad news???

Then I thought, isn’t this the same thing PR agencies do every day? Ok, yes, it’s quite a bit different, but bear with me. Maybe, instead of being put off by China Daily, we can learn something from this PR engine that is not only successfully broadcasting its news, but has convinced people to pay a cool $99 a year for it. Here are a few things that come to mind:

Find the Good Stuff In the Globe’s article on China Daily, BU professor Aimin Yan is quoted as saying, “All or most [of the publication’s] news is positive.” This may seem self-explanatory in PR – no one calls reporters hoping to get coverage of a client disaster – but positive doesn’t necessarily mean “not negative.” Have you ever put out a press release on an announcement that was just kind of… neutral? We need to focus on creating truly positive, impactful news.

Know Your Audience The audience is clearly something China Daily is keenly aware of: The publication debuted only 2 years ago and now has a circulation of 150,000. The Chinese government has been smart in choosing markets too, focusing on cities with a large, educated Chinese population. We PR folks could stand to take a page out of China’s book when it comes to selecting outlets that make a tangible difference for our clients.

Get Creative While most PR agencies don’t have one of the world’s biggest economic powerhouses as a client (if you do, more power to you), that’s no excuse to keep practicing the same old PR routine. It’s time to innovate when it comes to reaching new audiences. China established its own newspaper… what are you going to create?

Jake Navarro is a content consultant for Greenough. Send him an email at jnavarro@greenoughcom.com