What’s all the hype? August 27, 2012

In case you haven’t heard, China is the fastest growing economy in the world and second largest economy behind the U.S. There are more than 1.3 billion people who call China home.  Those of us in the people business understand the magnitude of those numbers. That’s why I spent 14 days in China visiting with other business owners and communications experts, to see what all the hype was about.

A lot of what you have heard is true. There is a lot of spending power in China and companies around the world are locating businesses in China to capitalize on those dollars.   However, as an owner of an American public relations agency, I discovered the road to business success in the public relations arena in China is not easy.  Yes, there are plenty of opportunities, but along with those opportunities come significant obstacles.   Here are a few obstacles I discovered:

  1. Good talent is hard to come by.  China is a relatively new economy and many of the communications professionals in China have not existed long, so training and expertise is limited, which creates an enormous gap for foreign companies looking to find good talent.
  2. Innovation/creativity is lacking.  I found this fact to be shocking because I’ve always heard that China was on the cutting edge of new technology.  And while this true, with all the government restrictions on the media and its citizens, China has found itself behind the eight-ball on new communication technology.
  3. Competition is fierce.   Yes, relatively speaking, China is a new economy, but as much as I hate to admit it, I was not the first to hear about it.  All the top 10 global advertising and public relations agencies have opened offices in the major China markets, Beijing and Shanghai.  There are plenty of agencies to choose from.

So, yes believe the hype. That’s way Nike, IBM, Wal-Mart, Fleishman Hillard, Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick have all successfully launched offices in China.  If you asked them, they would all tell you they took the road less traveled to get there and it was a bumpy ride.  Check out a few photos from my China trip below.




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