You are on page 1of 11

MSL China Executive Whitepaper

PR and the Party


- the truth about media relations in China
By Bill Adams, Catherine Cao, Linda Du and Charlotta Lagerdahl

Chinese Media
About MSL China
Following the union with Eastwei MSL, MSL China is now a top 5 international strategic communications agency in Mainland China. With 200 colleagues across 4 offices, MSL China brings together over 20 senior consultants with more than 12 years of strategic communications experience in this key global market. Part of MSLGROUP Greater China, the largest PR & social media network in the region today, MSL China provides knowledge driven, integrated campaigns and advisory services spanning nearly every industry and communications discipline. MSL China has received recognition from the International Business Awards, The Holmes Reports PR Agency of the Year, the China International PR Association and Chinas New Media Festival for its creativity and effectiveness in strategic communications and industry-leading social media offering.

State Controlled or Freewheeling Tabloids?


As China becomes more important to MNCs, Communications and Public Affairs executives at global headquarters are being asked to provide support for company business plans in China, as well as ensuring that local political or market issues do not negatively influence global business or their reputation. Most business failures in China from market entry difficulties or blocked mergers & acquisitions, to product flops and media crises are due to strategic misalignment and lack of communication between head office and local management. These problems could have been avoided if communications leaders at headquarters had been more in touch with their local proxies and had a better understanding of the market. Invariably, corporate heads of communications must rely on local colleagues and consultants for support. But the Chinese communications landscape is complex, fluid, and often contradictory how can you evaluate communication plans and messages in a market characterized by state censorship and a sensationalizing, profit-driven media serving the worlds largest group of Internet users and consumers? And when things go wrong, and youre the one in headquarters explaining to your CEO why Chinese newspapers or bloggers have placed your brand in the crosshairs, will you be able to explain how the Chinese media works and why it behaves the way it does? At MSL China we believe that in order to be effective in China, global PR and PA leaders need to: Understand which media are important and why Know how Chinese media differ from their counterparts in the West Apply best global PR practices adapted to local market conditions This whitepaper, based on nearly two decades of advising multinational companies in China, provides some guidelines and best practices for accomplishing these goals. We have structured it as a China media primer for global communications executives; providing local context and suggestions for how to best navigate the media market.

About MSLGROUP
MSLGROUP is Publicis Groupes speciality communications and engagement group, advisors in all aspects of communication strategy: from consumer PR to employee communications, from public affairs to reputation management and from crisis communications to event management. With more than 3,000 people, its offices span 22 countries. Adding affiliates and partners into the equation, MSLGROUPs reach increases to 4,000 employees in 83 countries. Today the largest PR network in Greater China and India, the group offers strategic planning and counsel, insight-guided thinking and big, compelling ideas followed by thorough execution. Learn more about us at: www.mslgroup.com http://blog.mslgroup.com Twitter YouTube

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 5

Media Landscape
With the worlds third largest advertising market, print, broadcast and digital media are thriving in China. Even with the active participation of propagandists and censors, Chinas hybrid of state-controlled and commercial media is an incubator for fledgling media empires, muck-raking journalists and cutting-edge Internet platforms. Below is a description of key media channels for corporate communications and marketing campaigns.

Business News Media


During the 1990s, Chinas market economy began to expand rapidly and business media flourished along with it. While chief editors in other sectors remained hyper-sensitive to government controls in the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen Square events of 1989, those in business media were given more leeway to operate and cover capital markets and at times act as watchdogs for the fledgling market economy. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the PRCs equivalent of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, explicitly supported business media serving as unofficial regulators to monitor financial corruption. Many of todays most talented Chinese journalists launched their careers in the business press, which at the time offered higher salaries and more freedom to operate. By 2000, with economic reforms bolstered by Chinas preparations to enter the W TO, business media diversified and multiplied with many new titles reporting on the wider aspects of Chinas political economy. However, while the government values the role of an independent press in a market economy, it still favors its own media and uses these resources to maintain its influence. For example, the CSRC designates certain papers and magazines, such as the China Security News and the Security Times as the only official forums for listed companies to disclose financial reports and official statements.

Newspapers
China is a leading newspaper market with over 2,000 in print and over 100 million total copies sold daily (compared to less than 1,500 in the United States and 51 million total copies sold daily). Unlike their Western peers, Chinese newspapers are not in financial distress; print news media are still very healthy.

others looking for the latest information and insights on government policies and data, cannot afford to ignore the official newspapers. PR professionals and marketers in China are keenly aware of the value of appealing to both categories in order to reach a broad readership. Most newspapers are localized, and different regions have distinctive characteristics. For example, Beijing papers tend to be more politically oriented; Guangzhou, on the other hand borders freewheeling Hong Kong, so its newspapers often push the limits of government censors. Every major city has one or two local papers with wide distribution, but few reach national audiences. Like their peers in the West, most people in China tend to read their local paper. This provincial focus remains in place even though most local newspapers host dynamic websites. However, the Internet has changed the way stories travel inside China. A popular story can quickly become national news, even when local cadres attempt to suppress it. For example, when Xiamen officials attempted to use local media to downplay protests over perceived dangers of a local chemical factory, the story was widely covered by other newspapers around the country and spread despite the local efforts to suppress it. Other developments to note: most major newspapers now provide an online version; some use Weibo (a Chinese equivalent of Twitter) and other social media accounts. Many such as CBN Weekly, Oriental Morning Post, and China Daily have iPad or iPhone apps as well.

..most talented Chinese journalists launched their careers in the business press

Most newspapers are localized

Although most media in China are ultimately stateowned, newspapers and magazines can be divided into two categories: official state-run and independentcommercial. Almost all of the independent-commercial publications are part of media groups led by Party or government newspapers, but they behave differently. Both kinds of newspapers must compete in the market, rely on circulation and advertisement for revenue, and are subject to the same system of censorship. However, official newspapers are older, conservative institutions that tend to act as the mouthpieces of the government or Party; whereas independent-commercial papers were created after a wave of commercialization spurred by economic reforms and are more consumer driven. While both categories of newspapers are capable of producing a professional level of journalism, official media tend to be fairly sanitized, and the independentcommercial outlets can verge on the sensational. Consumers gravitate towards the independentcommercial newspapers because of their hard-won reputation for investigative journalism and tantalizing content. However, bureaucrats, business leaders, and

Top 20 Newspapers by Circulation


1. Reference News () 3,180,000 2. Peoples Daily () 2,800,000 3. Yangtze Evening Post () 1,800,000 4. Guangzhou Daily () 1,680,000 5. Information Times () 1,480,000 6. South Metropolis News () 1,400,000 7. Yangcheng Evening News () 1,170,000 8. Chutian Dushibao () 1,140,000 9. News Express () 1,130,000 10. Qilu Evening News () 1,050,000 11. Global Times () 1,040,000 12. Xinmin Evening News () 998,000
Source: Baidu Zhidao (Media claims of their size of circulation are unverifiable; this list is for reference only and indicates relative market position of Chinas leading newspapers.)

13. Yanzhao Metropolis News () 995,000 14. Qianjiang Evening () 951,000 15. Urban Express () 950,000 16. This Evening () 910,000 17. Peninsula City Daily () 900,000 18. Southern Daily () 850,000 19. Wuhan Evening () 850,000 20. Dahe News () 830,000

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 7

Lifestyle Media
Lifestyle media in China have proliferated along with the growth of the Chinese middle-class and consumer culture. Many of the Wests leading lifestyle magazines, including Cosmopolitan, VOGUE, GQ, Mens Health, Elle, and Harper's Bazaar now produce Chinese editions. Due to their reputation as premium international publications and their readerships high income level, these publications have among the highest advertising revenues in the market. Meanwhile, Chinas homegrown lifestyle media remain the most adept at using local insight to catch reader attention, and offer their glossies at lower prices. Because young Chinese consumers are, in the vast majority of cases, the first generation in their family to enjoy high disposable incomes, they have a voracious appetite for topics such as fashion trends, new technologies, and health & leisure. Case in point: by focusing on advising nouveau riche men on which clothes and accessories to wear, which cars to drive and what ultrastylish cuttingedge smart phone will best help them to manage their lives, fashion magazines for men have achieved an annual growth rate of more than 30% in China since 2006.

Internet Portals
The largest commercial news websites in China are owned by Sina, Sohu, Netease and QQ, the first three of which are listed on NASDAQ. Second only to television, these portals are key sources of information in China the first place younger and more highly educated people go for news. Since government regulations prevent these sites from producing their own news, they have become aggregators of content, compiling stories from other media while allowing Internet users to voice their opinions through blogs, micro-blogs and electronic bulletin boards. Blogging and micro-blogging have become especially popular in China as many journalists blog to share views they might otherwise be unable to express in their full-time media jobs. Web portals such as Sina and Sohu can be regarded as just another form of traditional media, but China is also a leading social media market more than 265 million people log on to the Chinese equivalents of Yo u Tu b e , F a c e b o o k , Tw i t te r, a n d L i n ke d I n . Social media have already become a critical area for all communications professionals, and no media strategy is complete without them. (See MSL Chinas whitepaper Best Practices in Chinese Microblog Communications for more information on this fast-changing topic.)

Television
State-controlled television is king in China. It is the farthest-reaching medium, penetrating into 97% of all Chinese households. In 2010, television captured 76% of Chinas $96 billion advertising market. However, despite its staggering ubiquity, television lacks a strong hold on some important niche audiences. Because programming is understood to be strictly censored, younger and more highly educated demographics tend to trust it less than the middle-aged and older generations do (especially as a source for news). As in the West, Chinese television faces fierce competition from online news and entertainment. The bureaucratic and political nature of Chinas television industry is reflected in its organizational structure. The top player in the market is China Central Television (CCT V), which is directly controlled by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

In a US context, this would be akin to combining the three major networks under one company and placing it under the management of the Federal Communications Commission. While every province has its own network for hosting local channels and programming, CCTV is the only national network. Although CCT V is the reigning king, provincial and municipal networks have gained national audiences via cable and satellite. Some such upstarts have proven to be significant challengers. Hunan Satellite Televisions Super Girls, an American Idol-like talent contest, became the nations number one series. The final episode drew over 400 million viewers, making it one of the most popular shows in Chinese broadcast history. The show consequently drew official and public criticism for promoting "vulgarity". Eventually the SARFT issued a regulation barring the primetime airing of all talent shows with mass participation via satellite TV channels at provincial or vice-provincial level". Critics argue that the SARFT issued this regulation as a result of CCTV lobbying to protect its position as the market leader.

Television is king in China

many journalists maintain blogs and microblogs to share views

Post-Mao Media Reforms and Milestones


1979 Newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations allowed to sell advertising; 69 newspapers nationwide, all run by government officials of the Communist Party. 1980s Government begins to cut subsidies for state-controlled media. 1983 Media outlets permitted to profit from ad sales. 1990s Government phases-out subsidies for all but a select few state-controlled media, mouthpieces such as Xinhua News Agency and Peoples Daily. 2003 Communist Party ends mandatory subscriptions to most official party newspapers and magazines; subsidies to some government mouthpieces are phased out. 2009 Regulations ban websites from conducting online polls on current events; Internet users are required to use real names when posting responses to news stories. 2011 Market has over 2,200 newspapers, 9,000 magazines, and 500 million Internet users.

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 9

PR in the PRC
Communications and Public Affairs in China share fundamentals with the West; professionalism, relationships, and the right message are what matter most. That said, PR in China is unique for three main reasons: a single party monopolizes politics; commercial media outlets are relatively new and developing institutions; and the economy is growing rapidly. When building and executing any communications strategy under such conditions, it is imperative to consider the risks associated with government influence, market maturity, and the potential for corruption.

The Party-states Influence on Media


No analysis of Chinas media landscape would be complete without a description of how media are controlled by the Party and state. Chinas media controls are primarily political, rather than commercial, in nature. As a result, MNCs operating in China have, by default, become a favorite target for criticism and negative press. The media space that would otherwise be allocated to discussing the effectiveness of government policies and political scandals has to be filled with something; and because consumers are highly aware of famous brands, media discussions on those brands and what they are doing in China, for better or worse, remain a hot topic. It is also important to keep in mind that anything, from the price of your products to your HR policies, your companys nation of origin, or a planned acquisition, could suddenly turn into a political problem. All communications professionals dealing with the China market need to have a basic understanding of how the media are controlled by the state. A central question in Chinas communications industry is how to create and maintain market-driven and profitable media outlets, but which do not question the Partys authority. Chinas Chief Propagandist, Li Changchun, has stated that the essence of his job is to unite the spirit of the Party with public opinion. This is accomplished through two main strategies: The Three Closenesses, a broad principle that sets guidelines for all media, and Public Opinion Channeling, a recipe for how the Party leverages its command over media while allowing a relatively high degree of freedom. The Three Closenesses principle being close to reality, close to life, and close to the masses was launched by the Party Central Committee after the ascent of the Hu Jintao administration in 2003. It is a call for all journalists and media to accurately reflect the needs of Chinese society. It is taken to mean that official media should not limit themselves to stale coverage of government leaders activities, the latest official pronouncements, and other politically homogenized content, but neither should commercial media over-sensationalize events just to sell more copies or advertisements. The policy is a two-pronged approach to make state-run media more competitive while encouraging tabloids to take responsibility for accurate reporting and steer clear of inflammatory political discourse. Opinion Channeling is an attempt to leverage Chinas dynamic media to benefit political stability. Rather than directly prohibiting specific statements and/or topics, the Party, through its Propaganda Department, actively pushes a general agenda that more subtly influences the content and quality of Chinese media. This strategy is a response to the commercialization of information and the rapid development of new outlets and technologies like social media and mobile devices. In cases of sensitive incidents, such as ethnic riots or tainted food, the Party attempts to get ahead of the story. By creating timely messages delivered through the most popular channels, mass coverage is generated. This is a much more sophisticated approach than the traditional force-feeding of messages to the public. In short, the Party now tends to participate in the conversation as an authoritative source, rather than broadcasting its messages as indisputable truths. This also means that the Party sometimes hides its presence while participating in the conversation. For example, a given journalist or online commentator may not have overt Party or government credentials, but could be serving as a proxy.

the Party now tends to participate in the conversation as an authoritative source

Media Controls in Action


Treatment of a major railway accident in Wenzhou in July 2011 is an example of Chinas attempts at public opinion control and the Three Closenesses. After allowing several days of active media scrutiny and public venting online via tens of millions of Weibo (microblog) postings, the government ordered journalists to cease reporting on questioning eyewitness accounts. (The disaster caused an estimated 40 casualties and 200 injured.) Instead, the spotlight was shifted to coverage of "touching stories", such as local villagers rescuing passengers and blood donations from sympathetic citizens. The directive stated that further reporting on the accident should be in the spirit of major love in the face of major disaster and ordered "Do not question. Do not elaborate. No re-posting from micro-blogs will be allowed!" Furthermore, the directive forbade news media from other provinces from sending reporters to the scene of the accident and stated that commercial media and online portals in particular must carefully manage their behavior.

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 11

Maturing Market
In the 1980s, there was a systemic over-reliance on paid-for Chinese media coverage. When the PR industry began to emerge in China, most people, including industry professionals, interpreted public relations to mean simply guanxi, or relationships the Chinese social custom of networking and favor mongering. This misunderstanding of the communications profession was compounded by a lack of business ethics and journalistic guidelines in a rapidly developing commercial media industry. The pay-to-play phenomenon became especially prevalent in the 1990s. The use of gifts or cash incentives between companies and PR representatives became a common way of inducing journalists to write favorable stories. Some revenue hungry local media in second- and third-tier cities, as well as some trade media, still behave this way today. However, with the development of the market economy, there has been a surge in competition. The Internet has become a serious competitor of traditional media, and audiences are becoming increasingly discerning. These factors challenge media on all fronts to attract readers through viable, integrated content. Moreover, a gradual push for reporters and editors to become more sophisticated and professional is now evident just as in more developed markets where PR professionals are expected to pitch a great story that can hook a readers attention in order to be effective.

Corruption
While some companies continue to take shortcuts that may produce superficial, short-term results, it is no longer possible for enterprises and PR companies to build sustainable and valuable media relations through guanxi or payoffs. Unfortunately, the incentive for businesses and media outlets to forge corrupt business relationships through bribery remains a characteristic of the industry in todays China. Last year, the government confirmed that Zijin Mining Group, the countrys biggest gold producer, had tried to bribe reporters from Shanghai Securities News and the Xiamen Evening News to hush up a major toxic waste leak at the companys copper mine in Fujian province. In another case, a product manager from the Chinese dairy producer Mengniu Dairy Group and a representative from the companys local PR agency were arrested for spreading malicious rumors online, claiming that a competitors products were harmful by alleging there was a chemical that caused premature sexual development in children. See the box below on media blackmail about another common industry hazard. While the media industry in China is still occasionally marred by unprofessional, unethical and even illegal practices, at MSL China, we believe that the only way to build good media relations, and ultimately a strong reputation for your brand, is by providing journalists with insights and valuable information. This approach needs to be founded on a deep understanding of local media, our clients and their industries, as well as the mindset, habits, and preferences of consumers and other stakeholders. We call this Knowledge-Driven Media Relations (KDMR). During the past decade, MSL China has applied our KDMR philosophy for all of our clients with great success. We see this as the main reason why our agency has grown faster than any other international agency in China. At a glance, our approach may seem like standard operating procedure. By tailoring this global approach to China, however, we help our clients to create a unique and sustainable competitive advantage over less sophisticated local and multinational competitors.

PR professionals now need to pitch a great story

Media Blackmail
It can happen like this: the PR manager of a famous MNC opens a local newspaper or trade publication to discover a reporter has trashed their company or product. After making a few calls the PR manager finds the journalist who wrote the negative story never contacted anyone from the MNC to get their side of the story. Extremely concerned, the PR manager calls the journalist to find out what prompted the attack on his brand. The journalist replies, Oh, I heard some rumors in the market from my sources would you like me to do a follow-up story to clarify the situation? By the way, do you mind talking to my advertising department first? If you place an ad in our publication, we could certainly make room for another article about your company and its success in the market. Heres what you can do about it: Proactively build and manage your reputation in the market; if you have a solid reputation you can weather a few unsubstantiated attacks from small voices in the media. If this is an important media source for you, and you or your agency has been diligent in building your network, you can try going over the journalists head and diplomatically raise the issue with the editor, but this is useless if the editor is in on the game. You can try the court system, but libel cases are extremely hard to win; and you run the risk of blowing a relatively small issue out of proportion. Chinas Consumer Day is March 15; this day is a media feeding frenzy on product quality and safety issues. Any consumer product company in China must have a strategy in place for monitoring and rapid response.

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 13

3. Build and Nurture Guanxi


Insight, strategy, and appealing messages are critical, but relationships are and will remain important in China. Journalists do not want to be taken for granted and want to know you care about them as people and as professionals, and they want to know whats going on at your company even when there is no news to publish. Any ongoing media outreach program should be based on regular visits, news updates, and other points of contact to keep the relationship warm. Too many PR managers in China take a transactional approach, expecting every contact with a journalist to result in coverage. But in fact, one of the best ways to build an emotional connection with journalists is to share knowledge, not just about your company but also about your industry. This is especially useful because many journalists in China are young and often have not received much training from their organization they may be eager to learn more about macro issues. For

"We Understand"
from two decades of working with the Chinese media.

example, a journalist on the energy beat may want to know about the interaction between oil prices and capital markets, while a healthcare journalist may be interested in the sociological aspects of, as well as the latest global advances in, the treatment of a particular disease. They will be highly appreciative when your company offers them a short training seminar instead of a press conference. Over the years, we have seen that such investments tend to pay off because they establish you as a trusted source. Whenever journalists need more information about your industry, you will be the first person they call for a quote. Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of a systematic approach to guanxi. In a rapidly developing market like China, both PR managers and journalists tend to move from one employer to another. For this very reason, successful companies and PR agencies must take a state-of-the art, database-driven CRM approach to media relations.

- MSL Chinas KDMR


In the following, we share some of the best practices and recommendations garnered

Methodology in China
4. Create Your Own Media
With the expansion of todays digital media platforms and technologies, most of the worlds leading companies have developed content-rich websites intricately interwoven with social media, allowing them to broadcast their messages 24/7. However, most MNCs have not made corresponding investments in China. Local corporate websites and social media initiatives could benefit from simply reapplying the best practices from global markets, while sourcing strong, locally-relevant content to effectively engage local audiences. This is a giant missed opportunity for multinational companies most job seekers and business journalists in China conduct in-depth reviews of corporate websites. Making sure that your owned media are up to snuff gives you an excellent channel for communicating your commitment to the market, promoting your CSR programs, and attracting increasingly scarce local talent.

5. Dont Ever Be Tempted By or Tolerate Unethical PR Practices


Positive news coverage can be bought in China - each year, a few journalists and PR managers are charged with corrupt pay-to-play practices. It is important to understand that, although some local practitioners condone this practice, it is an approach that does not deliver the best long-term results and violates Chinese law. So even if your competitors attack you by paying journalists for negative coverage about your company or start negative rumors online, it pays off in the long run to take the high moral road. Letting the market lower your standards of practice can be costly; there are legal penalties as well as huge reputational risks. Every year, MSL China consultants are asked to support companies who have run into trouble in China after following the bad advice of local PR representatives.

1. Understand Local Target 2. Develop Tailored News Angles Audiences, Industry, and Media that Catch Media Attention
It may sound standard, but many multinational companies fail to properly analyze who they need to communicate to through local media, which factors are shaping their companys industry in China, and how journalists perceive and report on the company and its competitors. This is a simple and logical cornerstone of any communications campaign, yet it is still surprising how frequently PR managers in China are unwilling to invest in it because they think their brand, their guanxi, or some other factor will be enough to generate favorable coverage. There are many ways of achieving deeper understanding; focus groups with consumers, media audits to gauge journalist and trend-setting perceptions, as well as traditional and social media reviews to see whats already available in print or in the blogosphere.

4 5 1 2
It used to be much easier for MNCs in China to grab headlines. A decade ago, a CEO visit or a multi-million dollar investment would ensure that journalists took notice of your company. Not anymore. As official and independent-commercial media compete for consumer attention, successful communications in China will depend on appealing to and aligning with a complicated mix of government agendas, social concerns, broad groups of constituents such as JV partners and influential organizations, and geographically relevant audiences. The latter is important as China is a large and diverse country. MSL China consultants have helped clients tailor messages to key audiences to reflect alignment with the governments latest Five-Year Plan; created social media addressing the wide generation gap between Chinese born in the 70s, 80s and 90s; and provided consumer information for a mixture of technology aficionados and neo-luddites.

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 15

Media Profiles
The following is a general lay of the land for Chinese news media. Included are descriptions of a few influential newspapers, business and lifestyle publications, online portals, and television networks. Since this is a general overview, we do not delve into vertical media such as automotive, technology and healthcare, although these are vibrant and highly influential in their respective sectors.

Global Times () (est. 1993, circ. 1.04 million)


Part of the Peoples Daily Media Group, this daily is dedicated to delivering international news and reporting on Chinas engagement with the world. In 2009 the paper launched an English edition as part of the Chinese governments growing interest in spreading its views in international forums; this publication focuses more on business and economics and is an alternative English-language media to China Daily. Despite its affiliation with the main Party mouthpiece, Global Times is relatively outspoken and sometimes publishes muck-raking or controversial articles.

Guangzhou Daily () (est. 1952, circ. 1.6 million)

Newspaper Profiles
Cankao Xiaoxi () (est. 1931, circ. 3 million)
Published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, Cankao Xiaoxi is one of Chinas leading national daily newspapers. Its original purpose was to serve as an internal global news report for the PRCs political elite. Since 1985, its distribution has been widened to the general public. Cankao Xiaoxi contains translations of news articles and commentaries from foreign news agencies and newspapers. Although its content primarily consists of accurate translations of the original source material, it runs its own headlines, creates its own captions, and often deletes references unfavorable to China's image.

The official publication of the Guangzhou Municipal Government, Guangzhou Daily focuses on local news and information, and is one of the most popular mainstream media in southern China, boasting one of the largest circulations among dailies in the entire country. Despite being an official publication, it is highly readable, focusing on lifestyle and popular news, especially local information from the Pearl River Delta area.

Southern Metropolis Daily () (est. 1997, circ. 1.4 million)


Distributed mainly in the Pearl River Delta area, this commercial newspaper is known for its hard-hitting investigative journalism and edgy commentary. Its editors and journalists frequently come under fire from the authorities. As one of the nations largest and most influential newspapers, its reports are reprinted in many smaller regional media outlets.

Beijing Evening News () (est. 1958, circ. 1.2 million)


Inexpensive and readable, the Beijing Evening News is one of the capitals most popular dailies especially with older readers. However the Beijing Evening News faces challenges from other emerging general newspapers and online portals, and its circulation has been declining.

Peoples Daily () (est. 1948, circ. 2.8 million)


A newspaper under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), People's Daily distributes the latest news and policy information of the Party and government and major domestic and international news releases from China. It is the mouthpiece of the CPC and distinctly patriotic in tone. MNCs achieving positive coverage in Peoples Daily can be perceived in the market as being in favor with the Party and government. In addition to its main Chinese-language edition, it has editions in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. It also has an on-line version, peopledaily.com.cn, which is one of the largest Chinese news portals.

Beijing Times () (est. 2001, circ. 800,000)


Comparatively lowbrow, the Beijing Times mostly covers local news and reacts quickly to breaking news, including major political events, crime, and safety issues. It launched a supplement called CSR Weekly in June 2010, with more than 8 pages dedicated to CSR related news, making it a mainstay for corporate PR.

China Youth Daily () (est. 1951, circ. 500,000)


Run by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, China Youth Daily is a popular official daily newspaper and the first independently-operated central government news media portal in the People's Republic of China. Although its large reader base is due in part to mandatory subscriptions at universities and high schools, it is a high-quality and well-respected newspaper, especially because of its focus on human interest over politics. As with the Peoples Daily, positive coverage in this newspaper can provide MNCs in China some political cachet.

West China City Daily () (est. 1995, circ 1.15 million)


Founded in 1995 by former staff members of Sichuan Daily, West China City Daily is the leading paper in Chinas less-developed western region. It is the most popular source of news and information for all market segments in the region, from white-collar professionals and luxury brand consumers to government decision-makers.

China Daily () (est. 1981, circ. 570,000)


The leading English language daily in China, it is the most popular local newspaper among foreigners living in the PRC. Twenty years ago, China Daily was a dull litany of positive news about China and trite observations of foreign countries. Because it is published in English, it receives less scrutiny from censors, so in recent years its editors have significantly improved both print and web editions, and it has become a more compelling source of information about China and the world. MNCs and their PR representatives value its coverage of their business and events such as CEO visits, since headquarters can read the clippings without translation, but its local impact is not as high as Chineselanguage papers.

Oriental Morning Post () (est. 2003, circ. 150,000)


Managed by the Wenxin Media Group, this daily is circulated in Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Focusing on national finance and economic news, the target audience of the Oriental Morning Post is the regions new generation of upper middle-class residents. The newspaper is known for its professionalism and integrity; it professes to be the New York Times of China.

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 17

Newswire Profile
Xinhua News Agency () (est. 1931)
As the state news agency of the Peoples Republic of China, Xinhua is the governments primary collector and distributor of information in China and the most authoritative source of information on Chinese government affairs. Employing more than 10,000 people in 107 bureaus worldwide, 31 of which are in China, Xinhua News Agency is the largest wire service in the world. The agency provides daily 24-hour news information to the world in Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Portuguese. As most Chinese newspapers do not have overseas bureaus, Xinhua is their primary source for international reporting. Just as with other media in China, the government has cut its funding of the agency and it now generates revenue through public relations and information services. In 2010, it launched its 24-hour English-language news channel China Xinhua News Network Corporation (CNC World), which is headquartered in Hong Kong. CNC World will reportedly be a strategic focus for Xinhua News Agency in the next five years.

Caijing () (est. 1998, circ. 225,000)


As a bi-weekly glossy magazine focusing on the countrys economics and politics, Caijing is one of the leading business magazines and is widely quoted by international media such as The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and the Financial Times. Its chief editor Hu Shuli and the majority of its staff journalists left the magazine in 2009 due to a dispute over editorial rights. Caijing was once considered to be one of the most aggressive and insightful publications in China but subsequently seems to have lost some of its luster.

Lifestyle Media Profiles


Modern Weekly () (est. 1980, circ. 497,500)
A glossy tabloid published in Guangzhou with a focus on fashion and culture, Modern Weekly is Chinas leading paper with weekly distribution. It is well known for its personal interviews and business section. Targeting upper income Chinese and those that inspire to be, it is a favorite advertising platform for luxury, fashion, and other high-end consumer brands.

Business Media Profiles


21st Century Business Herald (21) (est. 2001, circ. 632,000)
A member of the Nanfang Daily Group, this paper is published five days a week and is one of the most powerful financial newspapers in China. The paper is known for its aggressive reporting and critical commentary. A pioneer in the Chinese media industry, it was the first Mainland financial paper to enter Hong Kong with a special edition for the market. It also has bureaus in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Moscow.

The Bund () (est. in 2002, circ. 150,000)


Named after Shanghais famous riverfront, this weekly has a cosmopolitan slant and mainly focuses on the Shanghai culture scene. It is popular for its interviews, as well as its fashion and entertainment content. Because of its focus on Shanghai, the magazine is comparable in nature to The New York Times Magazine.

Economic Observer () (est. 2001, circ. 380,000)


A weekly published on Mondays, it strives to distinguish itself from other business media through in-depth analysis and an attractive layout. Providing editorial space for a wide variety of experts and scholars, the magazine focuses on economics, politics, and culture. The papers pink-tinted pages evoke those of the UKs Financial Times and appeals to intellectuals.

Sanlian Life Weekly () (est. 1995, circ. 200,000)


Published by the Sanlian Bookstore, a unit of the China Publishing Group in Beijing, this weekly covers politics, economics, human interest, culture and technology for smart, urban audiences. It can be compared to The Atlantic or The New Yorker in the United States. After drawing criticism from censors, it has recently shied away from current affairs and reports more on lifestyle related topics targeting the growing Chinese middle class.

China Business Journal () (est. 1985, circ. 380,000)


Published weekly under the direction of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China Business Journal is one of the most influential business and economic magazines, with a strong focus on the topic of business management. The paper takes a management perspective and discusses how companies can improve, but without the tabloid criticism of leaders, business performance or products which is common in other Chinese media.

Lifestyle () (est. 1993, circ. 300,000)


Published twice a week in Beijing, with Style Weekly on Monday and Southern Life Weekly on Thursday, Lifestyle includes sections such as Fashion, Hot Topics, Truth, New Knowledge, Showtime, Psychology, Nutrition, Mother and Child, Tourism, and Autos. It is affordable and has strong mass appeal.

China Business News () (est. 2004, circ. 250,000)


Like Bloomberg, the CBN Group operates print and broadcast business news services. The Groups newspaper, China Business News, is published Monday through Saturday; it focuses on breaking news in business, economics, and finance. The Opinions & Comments section penned by guest columnists is increasingly popular with business readers. Many international news media source information from the paper because it is fast and authoritative.

New Weekly () (est. 1996, circ. 285,000)


Possibly the trendiest of Chinese lifestyle publications, after more than 15 years of development, New Weekly has earned a reputation as a keen observer and reporter of social changes in the country. Based in Guangzhou, New Weekly is one of the countrys first glossy magazines. A biweekly, it is published on the 1st and 15th of each month.

MSL China Executive Whitepaper


PR and the Party - the truth about media relations in China 19

I n t e r n e t Po r t a l P r o f i l e s
Sina.com () (est. 1999)
Chinas leading Internet portal is headquartered in Shanghai. According to Alexa, Sina.com.cn was 14th in the Top Site rankings and 3rd in Traffic rankings within China. Sina.com has over thirty integrated channels, including news, sports, technology information, finance, advertising services, entertainment, fashion, and travel. Sina.com also provides services such as SMS, email, a search engine, games, entertainment and Sina Blog. The Sina Micro-blog, Weibo, is Chinas equivalent of Twitter. While Twitter is blocked by local authorities, Sina Weibo and has become hugely popular, quickly amassing over 200 million users, nearly eight times as many as Twitter. According to its 2010 annual report, Sinas net revenue reached $402 million, showing 12% annual growth.

TV Station Profiles
China Central Television () (est. 1958)
Based in Beijing, this national network is directly controlled by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT). CCTVs most-watched program is the Network News which broadcasts daily from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., simultaneously on at least one state-run TV channel in every provincial and municipal market. The networks annual New Year's Gala is also markedly popular, drawing one of the largest TV audiences worldwide with an estimated 700 million viewers. The network comprises sixteen channels, including CCTV-2, its business channel.

Hunan Television () (est. 1970)


The hit series Super Girls propelled Hunan TV to become China's second biggest television network after CCTV. The network is based in Changsha in Hunan Province and Xining in Qinghai Province. Since 2009, Hunan TV has sold its popular programs to markets across East Asia and has signed contracts with international producers to produce and distribute original programming.

Sohu.com () (est. 1996)


While Sina.com is more news focused, its main competitor Sohu.com is more entertainment and lifestyle focused in content. Sohu was ranked as the world's 3rd and 12th fastest-growing company by Fortune in 2009 and 2010, respectively. As of August 2010, Sohu is currently 46th overall in Alexa's Internet rankings. Sohu was selected by Chinas Olympic authorities to provide exclusive services to construct, operate, and host the official Beijing Olympics website. According to its 2010 annual report, the companys net revenue was $612.8 million, showing annual growth of 19%.

Phoenix TV () (est. 1996)


This Hong Kong-based Mandarin-Chinese television-broadcaster is permitted to air its news in the PRC one of the few non-government controlled television broadcasters. Phoenix TV has an excellent relationship with the government; its Beijing offices are located in the Diaoyutai state guesthouse. Phoenix TVs news program has a reputation for covering events and providing perspectives that are not available on other networks, and its announcers are young and energetic compared to state TVs homogeneous anchors. Phoenix TV now broadcasts to over 150 countries and regions around the world and has an estimated 300 million viewers, 150 million of whom are in China. News Corp holds a 17.6% stake in Phoenix Satellite Television Company Limited.

Netease () (est. 1997)


Operating the popular portal 163.com, the company is different from Sina and Sohu in that the company generates huge revenues from fees it charges users for hosting online games (including World of Warcraft) and wireless valueadded and other fee-based premium services, as well as online advertisement sales. According to its 2010 annual report, the companys net revenue for the year was nearly $834.5 million.

Tencent (QQ) (est. 1998)


(Referred to as QQ) QQ is the most popular free instant messaging platform in China. There are over 600 million active QQ users (including QQ IM users), making it one of the world's largest online communities. In February 2011, QQ.com ranked 10th overall in the Alexa Internet rankings, one place behind Twitter. Aside from its chat program, QQ has also developed many other features including a search engine, games, virtual pets, ringtones, and blogs.

CBN TV () (est. 2003)


CBN TV is part of the second largest Chinese media group SMG and is the only professional Business TV channel targeting investors. Broadcasting 20 hours per day with 12 hours of live programs, CBN TV covers core investment markets in China and provides insights from over 30 market traders and security analysts. The channel mainly focuses on finance, markets, and trading information and its portfolio includes programming such as Stock Today and Finance Night Line. It covers 28 provinces and cities and has 12.9 million viewers in Mainland China, with another 880,000 viewers in Hong Kong. It was the first mainstream TV channel from the Mainland to enter Hong Kong.

Dragon TV () (est. 1998)


First launched in October 1998 as Shanghai TV, it changed its name to Dragon TV on October 23, 2003. It has the widest broadcast news coverage among the provincial satellite TV stations, and more than six hours of daily live news shows. Currently, Dragon TVs signal covers most of China, including Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and is also available in North America, Japan, Australia, Europe and other areas. All of Dragon TV's news programs are owned by the parent company SMG TVs news production center Asias largest television news production and broadcasting organization.

Travel Chanel () (est. 2002)


As the only satellite channel focusing on tourism and leisure in China, it garners a large viewership and is a popular advertising platform for high-end brands. The channel also broadcasts global golf and tennis events to support its position as the lifestyle media for Chinas rapidly growing middle and upper classes.

MSL China regularly publishes Executive Whitepapers with insights and comments on trends, the industry and society as a whole. To get information from MSL China or to subscribe to future whitepapers, as well as to contact us for any other matter, please send us an e-mail on greaterchina@mslgroup.com or call us +86 21 5169 9311 (SH) or +86 10 8573 0688 (BJ). MSL China Executive Whitepaper August 2011 Copyright MSL China