The Best Way to Reach Chinese Media
We have dispelled myths about how PR works in Asia, and offered tips for getting tech news covered in China. This post focuses on WeChat, a messenger app that is one of the best ways to reach Chinese media.
Former Fusion PR intern Carmen Ren is from Shenzhen, China, and recently completed her Masters Degree in PR at NYU. She consulted with Chinese journalist friends to answer our questions in the following guest post / interview (Thanks, Carmen!). The goal was to provide practical advice for U.S.-based PR pros, who are more accustomed to using reporter databases and email.
We hope you find the post helpful. It is an abridged version of the information that she collected. For additional details, please register to download the full interview.
WeChat: Your Gateway to Chinese Media
Email is still the go-to way to get business done in most parts of the world. That’s why some may find it strange that people at networking events in China exchange WeChat IDs instead of business cards. While practically no one in the West uses WhatsApp to send info, WeChat is commonly used to communicate with colleagues and other professionals, including reporters and PR pros, in China.
Please read on to better understand how this works.
Are Chinese tech journalists receptive to pitches via WeChat? Do you need to know them and get their permission to contact them in this way?
- Chinese reporters see acquiring corporate information as part of their jobs, and like to do this in the easiest way. So getting press releases via WeChat is not remotely strange. Some even prefer WeChat because it’s convenient, direct, and instant.
- It is important to note that WeChat is a messenger tool similar to WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. You can only send messages when your friendship request is accepted. Fortunately, this is not as hard as getting someone’s phone number. If you introduce yourself as a PR representative, a reporter will most likely accept.
How do you actually connect with journalists via WeChat? Is there an address or handle that you use?
- Users can add new contacts in several simple ways, including a WeChat ID and QR code scanning.
- The most common ways to get a reporter’s WeChat info include:
- Attending events ranging from press conference to social gatherings (this works better if you are actually in China, of course). WeChat in many ways has replaced email addresses or business cards in professional settings.
- Getting introduced by colleagues and friends. It makes sense that media databases are unpopular there, when simply asking around is a quicker much more effective way to get their info.
- Signing up for groups. WeChat has a group feature similar to Facebook’s, which brings together people from the media and corporate sides. A PR pro can also create a group and invite all the relevant journalists. This is very handy when you need to send out a press release.
- Searching contact information online and reaching out first via email.
How can you build relationships and stories with WeChat?
- The most common ways are to ‘like’ and respond to posts on the reporter’s timeline (WeChat users have a profile page that is like a simplified version of Facebook timeline, where users post “moments” in text, pictures or short videos), and send greeting messages on holidays and other special occasions.
- When a PR rep doesn’t know the reporter, he/she may connect via email and/or WeChat. They can discuss a story to see whether the reporter is interested or needs more information.
- For online publications, it is much easier to get articles posted. The process most typically involves WeChat and phone calls, and sometimes email and QQ (an older IM, which is also part of Tencent).
But, c’mon! You really need to be in China to make this work, right? Or you need to speak the language / use Chinese character sets / have someone who actually is Chinese and has the contacts and language skills to do all this, right?
- Anyone here can use WeChat, you don’t need to be in China. All of the above can help but are not an absolute requirement.
For the complete interview, including more information about how to build media relationships in China, and an example of a WeChat press room, please visit the following link and register.