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International communication for Asian multinationals: PR's next big thing?

It won't be long before a majority of the FORTUNE 500 multinationals are based in Asia. China alone has 109 of these MNCs, but most of these are unknown globally. How these companies decide to use corporate communication to promote image and protect reputation as they build global brands in a social media age is the 'next big thing' in global public relations.

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International communication for Asian multinationals: PR's next big thing?

  1. 1. American University School of CommunicationBob Pickard
  2. 2. By modern new realities
  3. 3. Consider the sheer scale of Asia’s rise
  4. 4. Composition of nominal GDP 26% 8% 25% 6% 6% 29% 16% 8% 13% 7% 11% 45% 10% 8% 8% 6% 19% 49% North America Latin America Western Europe Eastern Europe ME / Africa Asia Pacific 2010 2030 2050 Source: Citibank Global Economic Review
  5. 5. There is no country called ‘Asia’ § It is not a ‘country of regions’ like the US § It is also not really a region of countries § It’s more like a division of diverse regions § ‘Asia-Pacific’ as a reporting convenience for multinationals, a waning regional umbrella concept § The way quite a few Chinese marketers seem to think, China = Asia (similar to some US attitudes about the Americas) § Massive inter- and intra-national diversity in Asia
  6. 6. Social PR perspective § These days you can see some of the most interesting international PR trends refracted through the lens of what’s happening in social media § How Asians communicate with each other and with the world via social media is different than one might assume in Western countries § Marketing and media innovation is being driven more from Asia than is apparent here § Asia’s next generation of global multinationals will become world famous brands via social technology
  7. 7. Asia-Pacific social media snapshot
  8. 8. China, India, Indonesia growing fast
  9. 9. China leads the way
  10. 10. The East dwarfs the West on social
  11. 11. Mobile intensity in ASEAN
  12. 12. Social intensity in ASEAN
  13. 13. In Japan, less social and more mobile
  14. 14. India is catching up fast
  15. 15. Korea is tops in mobile social
  16. 16. Indonesia incredible mobile penetration
  17. 17. Check out the growth of chat
  18. 18. Asian chat apps in key markets
  19. 19. Is it as big as the factories in China ?
  20. 20. Is it as fast as the bullet train?
  21. 21. It’s all about ‘face’
  22. 22. Source: Banducci Consulting
  23. 23. It won’t be long before most global FORTUNE 500 companies are from Asia § Future famous brands § Now 109 from China § Japan still has 51 § Korea has 15 § India has 7 (USA has 132)
  24. 24. How many of China’s 109 are famous?
  25. 25. What about Huawei?
  26. 26. Famous from fears
  27. 27. What about Alibaba?
  28. 28. Famous from fortune
  29. 29. What about India? # 168 # 203 # 217
  30. 30. Japan Inc. # 5 # 29 # 33
  31. 31. Korean chaebol # 15 # 78 # 95
  32. 32. Key PR questions being asked § What is corporate communication? § Where does it ‘fit’ in the marketing mix? § How much money should we spend on it? § Do we communicate differently globally compared to domestically? § Who should be in charge of it internally? § Who else is doing it and what can we follow or imitate from their ‘case study’ experience? § How do we tangibly measure its effectiveness?
  33. 33. Getting started with going global § Many Asian companies are completely unknown outside of the region and will find it challenging to compete in countries where ‘mind share’ will help them achieve market share § In many cases, their corporate communications efforts have been so ‘local’ in orientation, they are simply not yet equipped with the tools they will need to build an image – or the defences required to defend their reputation § As these companies gain traction internationally, they can count on being attacked by entrenched competitors, who in many cases may enjoy commanding positions supported by the most advanced communications capabilities available today § Meanwhile, in many Asian companies, corporate communication is an underdeveloped and poorly understood low-status function § Even before then, Asia companies will be up against generic negative stereotypes that are commonplace in many markets…
  34. 34. § Unfairly exploitative; interested in ‘extracting’ from host markets rather than ‘contributing’ benefits to communities § Commoditized ‘quantity’ players who compete on price rather than on quality § Hierarchical ‘machines’ with top-down command and communications § Nationalistic and conquering in mentality towards other countries § Unsophisticated when it comes to corporate social responsibility § Agents of PRC state power and potentially a security risk § Environmentally ‘toxic’ with pollution problems likely § Untrustworthy in keeping commercial agreements § Flagrant abusers of intellectual property § Culturally and ethnically homogenous § Harsh employers with HR problems § Lacking in transparency § Ethically suspect The ‘national’ challenges for Chinese multinationals
  35. 35. The opportunities for Asian companies § Those are all kinds of characteristics that may be unfairly assumed to be true of an Asian company overseas before it even gets started with its communications § While such may seem to be daunting obstacles, fundamentally they represent tremendous opportunities for Asian companies who have the ‘power to surprise’ with positive behaviour that will directly contradict these negative preconceptions
  36. 36. Get famous for good stuff first § Indeed, it is the contrast between the negative perceptions in theory about Asian companies and their positive performance in reality that will build the best image § The key test outside of Asia is making sure that when people hear about a new Asian company for the first time, they do and think things favourable to the company in direct consequence § It is critically important that Asian companies become well known internationally for the positive things they stand for in the first place, rather than become famous first through negative mistakes…
  37. 37. …like what happened to Foxconn
  38. 38. The digital opportunity for Asia 1800s 1980s 2000s The rise of America The rise of the ‘Four Tigers’ The rise of Japan 2010s The rise of China The rise of Britain 1900s 2020s The rise of India
  39. 39. Asian brands going global on social
  40. 40. India’s social CEO
  41. 41. Asia a pioneer in global social comms
  42. 42. This decade’s best crisis communicator
  43. 43. “Providing information as we get it”
  44. 44. “This is my worse nightmare”
  45. 45. Compare this to PR Week’s ‘Communicator of the Year’ (2017)
  46. 46. How some American companies failed to communicate in Asia § Being seen to ‘take’ and not ‘give’ § Engaging the wrong people to communicate § Lack of respect for local culture and language § Failure to listen to their stakeholder communities § Misreading the tastes and preferences of the market § Lack of effort to build relationships through earning trust § ‘Bulldozing’ of ‘global’ marketing from the home country § Double-standards in how they treat customers and employees § Thinking they can get away with putting boundaries around markets in a digital world where ‘local’ can become ‘global’ Asian MNC’s going global should avoid making these mistakes!
  47. 47. American University School of CommunicationBob Pickard