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January 19, 2011
Chinese Firms Weak In PR Skills
 
Credit the Chinese for recognizing a weakness in their vaunted economy—their public relations/crisis communication skills can use improvement, a research report by a Shanghai university has found. We don't know whether President Obama and China's President Hu Jintao are including corporate PR issues in their talks during President Hu's current White House visit, but U.S. colleagues of Chinese enterprises might consider reaching out to help.

People's Daily Online reports that "Chinese enterprises are slow to recognize emergency situations and perform poorly when handling public relations crises," according to a report compiled by the public opinion research laboratory of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The researchers looked at the 50 most prominent Chinese PR events in 2010 and analyzed the responses by the firms involved.

"We found Chinese enterprises' ability to respond to a crisis is basically weak in areas such as problem solving, issue management and communication," said Xie Yungeng, deputy director of the university's Institute of Arts and Humanities, who helped write the report. A "lack of judgment" was identified as the cause of the failure of many Chinese enterprises to handle crises well.

So crisis communication might be a helpful, profitable subject for exchanges by Chinese and American firms and practitioners. "According to the report," says People's Daily, "half of the 50 cases included in the study occurred in private enterprises, 26 percent in State-owned enterprises, and 24 percent in foreign firms or those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan."

U.S. PR and crisis communication firms: Here's an opportunity to do a modest something about the trade balance between China and the U.S. and to be helpful to Chinese enterprises in the bargain. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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