Poor PR Practices Threaten China's American Business Aspirations
Josef Blumenfeld, July 2005
A headline in a recent issue of The Economist provides a prelude into the accepted fact that Chinese businesses will continue their buying spree of American companies: "Chinese companies are becoming aggressive buyers of overseas assets. It will take longer for them to become smarter ones.?Unfortunately, the longer it takes for Chinese companies to become "Smart"buyers, the more difficult --- or even impossible --- any of their desired acquisitions become.
It is vital that business executives in China recognize the strategic value of public relations in the U.S. and initiate cohesive and proactive communications efforts in support of their acquisition efforts. The unique power of the American media to shape public opinion --- and the role that public opinion plays in supporting or opposing foreign acquisition attempts - requires that Chinese companies adapt their communications efforts to a model that strengthens their position in the U.S. Today's poor public relations practices are laying a foundation for tomorrow's acquisition failures.
Is it surprising that China's businesses fail to understand the power of PR in America? A huge cultural divide and understanding gap exists between these two great nations. Each country has unique cultural aspects that often can be polar opposites. In the book "The Story of Civilization,"authors Will and Ariel Durant point out that "Americans are the best informed people on earth as to the events of the last 24 hours; we are not the best informed as to the events of the last 60 centuries." The American attention span is very short, its worldview very narrow --- and the American media has adapted to serve, and possibly support, this collective short-term viewpoint.
China is no longer isolated --- it has rapidly ascended to a role of global leadership and visibility. With that prominence comes increased global attention and scrutiny, requiring more and better public communication than ever before. Recent public relations missteps in America provide an opportunity for China's businesses to learn and improve. As China continues to capture the global stage, culminating in the 2008 Olympics and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, its ability to successfully navigate global markets becomes increasingly crucial.