Business and the media in China
Li Yuan of The Wall Street Journal writes about how the relationship between companies and the media in China is different thanm the United States.
Yuan writes, “While some Chinese companies have come to grasp the responsibilities of a listed company and the value of professional PR, and as the Internet makes it harder to suppress bad news, it’s not uncommon that businesses try to use money and/or political influence to smother critical reports.
“Journalists and publications that can be swayed, or even proactively seek financial rewards, reinforce the vicious cycle and the perception that anything is for sale, from the writing of an advertorial to the outright killing of an article. ‘PR is about value creation and value protection,’ says a PR professional who’s been working at multinational companies for about a decade. ‘In China, both can be accomplished with money. And you can fail on both if you don’t spend the money.’
“Of course, in China there’s no such thing as independent media — every publication is required to be affiliated with a government agency. It’s natural that the public would suspect that news coverage has been manipulated for political or financial reasons.
“Likewise, it’s not surprising that some businesses believe they can manipulate the press with money. For starters, there’s an unspoken rule that companies are expected to provide ‘transportation money’ for reporters, often in the amount of a couple of hundred yuan, for showing up at press events. Financial arrangements can also be in the form of ads and free trips. While not every company follows these practices, many do because they fear that if they don’t, they could antagonize the reporters. In return, they expect the reporters and publications to be ‘nice’ to them.”
Read more here.