Picture introducing your product in a brand new market — one completely foreign to you and your team — and being welcomed with open arms by the media. Better yet, imagine launch day rolls around and there’s already thousands — millions — of people excitedly refreshing your website or lining up to see your launch in person. That’s the power of a strong PR event.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled some top PR event tips you'll need to launch your brand in China.
Craft A Strong PR Message
One common mistake people make in planning their PR event is trying to cover too much at once. This often ends up diluting the message and making the event lose focus.
To prevent this, focus on one or two key aspects of your launch and amplify those. Make sure all of your materials are created around this key message and there’s clear evidence to support it. This way, even if people aren’t familiar with your business, it’s easy for them to understand what you do and why it matters.
In addition, make sure that your message goes beyond your business and gives the audience a clear reason why this product is relevant to them. Just because a product does well in one country, doesn’t mean it will automatically translate to China. Chinese reporters prioritize stories that are culturally relevant and have local appeal.
Some key questions you want to reflect in your PR message:
What does your business offer to the market?
What is your USP that set you apart from the competition?
How committed are you to serving Chinese customers?
What are the company’s next steps in China?
Adding such messages will make your messages much stronger and appealing to Chinese reporters.
Prepare Your “A” Media List
A successful PR event starts with a smart media strategy. The key with your media strategy is focusing your list on media publications that are truly relevant to your business and with journalists you can build long-term relationships. Pitching your event to the media will be much easier if there’s a great match between what you’re offering and the journalists’ area of expertise.
In China, you also need to account for the unique media landscape when you plan your media strategy. To help familiarize yourself with how media works in China, here’s an in-depth overview.
Another aspect to consider is how many media contacts to include. A good place to start is between 20 and 30 contacts. Anything bigger than this would make for more complicated logistics and media follow-up.
Your “A” media list should include the following data for each journalist:
Publications (and outlets)
Email or other contact information
Social media (aka WeChat)
When you pitch the event to the journalists, make sure these questions are covered:
What is the event and why is it newsworthy?
How is the event relevant to the audience of the media publication?
Who will be the speaker and whether there will be any interview opportunities?
With a small list, it’s also easier to connect one-on-one, send tailored pitches to each journalist based on their area of interest, and follow up in an organized manner. This is key in building a mutually beneficial media relationship.
Plan Your PR Event
Your PR event is the first introduction of your brand to the Chinese media you’re connecting with. A successful PR event creates a great first impression, is enjoyable for your guests, and more likely to generate positive press you’re looking for. So the goal is to exceed journalists' expectations and stand out with your creativity and quality planning.
There are 4 things to consider when planning a successful PR event in China:
Do your research before you pick a date
Since you’re arriving at a new market, it’s important to make sure your event doesn’t clash with Chinese holidays, important local dates, or the government agenda. You also want the media attention on you, so make sure to check for other big media events. Let your local PR agency guide you in picking the best date for your event.
Design a memorable experience
You know the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A successful PR event is exciting and begs to be shared. Create an event that journalists can’t wait to talk about.
When the product allows it, have fun with the theme and invite your guests to experience your product or service firsthand. This way, it’s easier for them to understand and remember what you presented, and their stories will be more lively.
A great example of this is McDonald’s media event in China: In 2015, they created self-order kiosks where customers can “design” a burger to their liking. For the launch, they hosted a PR event where journalists got to test the DIY burger first.
Instead of a traditional press conference where the executive gives a speech highlighting the product features, McDonald's created an experience for the journalists to understand the benefits more vividly.
Keep your event relevant
Giving your journalists the opportunity to experience your offer is a compelling way to deliver your messages and is likely to leave a great impression of your products to the journalists.
However, you also want to keep your key message at the core of your event. Plan activities that support your product and not distract from it. This is a fine line, especially for B2B launches that may feel obligated to provide an immersive experience but whose products may not work well this way. For these brands, simplicity is key: A simple press event with a few highlights that focus on your key message and amplify it is more effective than an event that tries too hard to impress.
Rehearse before the big day
If you’ve attended a wedding, you’ll know how important event planning is. Same goes for PR events, especially if it's your first time showing up in front of Chinese media. It’s crucial to have at least one full rehearsal from beginning to end.
Everyone on your team needs to know exactly what to do during the event. They need to be prepared at the right times and move quickly with your plan.
It’s also important to plan for enough time between the rehearsal and the real event to correct any possible issues. Double-check that journalists, contractors, vendors, and other providers have the correct time, date, and location as well as any access requirements like badges or ID cards.
Prepare your executives by handing out the media list and reminding them of the key messages of the event. Prepare for the potential questions journalists may ask and come up with answers for your speakers to prevent disparities in messaging. Likewise, if there are any media interviews arranged after the event, familiarize your executives with the journalist's background and debrief the questions they submitted.
Make A Good First Impression With The Media
As with the whole PR event, your goal is to foster a relationship with the journalists. As you introduce your business to a new market, the key is to nurture a strong network. To do this, there are 3 general tips:
Media reception: Always greet your media guests with a friendly face and offer them support throughout the event to show your hospitality. Additionally, the time after the event is perfect for connecting with journalists. At this time, the information is buzzing in their minds and they may have questions for you and your clients. This is the perfect chance to learn more about them, what topics or trends they are following, how they like the event and what other aspects of the business they'd like to learn about,.etc. This helps you learn more about the reporter and his or her area of interests that can strengten your future PR pitching.
Media gifts: These don’t have to be too elaborate. Branded products related to your services are a great way to stay in their mind. Your brand mascot, a VR headset, a tripod, earbuds, and other accessories will make you stand out. Also, consider sending a gift to the journalists who can’t make it to the event along with the e-copy of the press materials. They might not be able to cover the event but this gesture will leave a good impression on them that will open many doors in the future.
Follow-ups: Not every journalist who attended will publish a story about your event. To ensure the maximum coverage, you want to follow up within the first two days after and provide them the highlights, supporting press materials, photography or video, and anything they need to write your story. Ask them about the potential date the news will be published and follow up closely.
Finally, don't forget to send a “thank you” message within 24 hour after the event to show that you appreciate their time and work.
Build A Strong Foundation For Your Brand In China With A Buzz-Worthy PR Event
A successful PR event can help you build media relationships and generate buzz to support your business growth in China. If its a product or business preview event, the positive media coverage can even create anticipation for your official launch, makes it easier to measure market's reaction to your business, and help set expectations and orient you in the early stages of launching in China.
Public relations are one of the most powerful tools businesses can nurture. While planning a PR event for the first time in China could be challenging for brands who are new to the market, at Tribe China, our team of media specialists and strategists are ready to help.
Interested to learn more about how PR event can help you generate buzz in China? Contact us.