The importance of China to global shipping can’t be overestimated. The role of Chinese finance; the increasing sophistication of the country’s shipbuilding industry; the dominance of Chinese banks in shipping; the growth of the Chinese cruise market; China is at the centre of the stories that are shaping the maritime industry.
Breaking into the Chinese market, however, can be challenging for Western companies. Not only are language and cultural barriers often major hurdles, but the media ecosystem functions along different lines. Many of the social media platforms and web apps that are essential channels for Western businesses are blocked in China; Google is replaced with Baidu, and WeChat is practically synonymous with the internet.
For many companies in shipping, a crucial challenge is how to grow their market presence without diluting their brand or allowing messages to become mixed in translation.
Working in communications and media for six years in Shanghai, I’ve seen first-hand how difficult it can be for Western companies to translate their brands in a way that resonates in China without a dedicated presence in the country and a deep network of contacts. Because of this, many companies may simply opt to translate press releases and hope for the best, risking being ignored, or misunderstood. Even when a more dedicated approach is taken, many companies don’t take the time to understand their Chinese stakeholders, who may operate in a very different market, with different needs, to customers back home. What’s more, companies who have a well-established reputation and brand abroad may become challenger brands in the Chinese market.
This is why, in the run-up to Marintec, one of the world’s largest shipping events, held in China, BLUE has established a partnership with Hagen PR. Based in Shanghai and Austria, Hagen PR is a dedicated B2B PR agency with extensive B2B experience in China, Korea, and Japan.
The timing for this is crucial. As China grows in prominence, B2B media is also growing in China, and in recent years, a strong network of media has emerged with a demand for excellent content.
With Hagen PR as a partner, BLUE is now able to offer additional outreach and engagement with Chinese media, leveraging Hagen PR’s deep networks and translation services. We’re excited to be partnering with genuine experts in these markets, with the same dedication to building brands from the ground up as BLUE, using great content to establish clients as thought leaders.
We spoke to Hagen PR founder Bernhard about why it’s so important for non-Chinese companies to understand the characteristics of Asian media markets and to invest in a bespoke approach to communicating with their stakeholders in China and across Asia:
“In Asia, media markets grow and transform rapidly. The style of journalistic writing is unique. Traditions and cultural influences play an important role in media relations – for example the Japanese “Kisha” press club system or the Chinese concept of Guanxi. In short: Asian media markets pose very specific challenges. This is why we’ve established a network of PR specialists in all major Asian countries to help companies in the B2B sector successfully communicate their key messages. Given the overlap between our approaches, we’re excited to be working together with BLUE and helping more marine and energy businesses grow their brands in Asia.”
Starting immediately, BLUE will offer clients the option of Chinese, Japanese and Korean translation and media outreach services, as an addition to existing thought leadership campaigns.
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