Guide to Doing Public Relations in China

Public Relations professionals help businesses cultivate a positive reputation with the public through various unpaid or earned communications, including traditional media, social media, and in-person engagements. PR influences the consumer perception of a brand’s products or services. It consists of having an authority profile talking about your company. It can be media (newspapers, blogs), KOLs, or even the community.

It is not always easy to get a press release which is why many agencies with the right connection and that know how to proceed are offering this type of service. PR has the advantage of lasting in time and getting you covered by trusted people on third-party websites that give you legitimacy.

Public Relations through Chinese media agencies are the most effective because the Chinese use their internet tools more than any other internet community. This is why, in this article, we will explain the best strategies for doing public relations in the Chinese market.

Political Censorship in China in Public Relations

The Chinese government plays an important role in the media. Indeed, as some of you may know, the Internet, television, movies, media, and the press are severely controlled by the government. In order to avoid any kind of problem media organizations must be in step with government policy.

For example, in China, some keywords are strictly forbidden on the Internet. Some of them are:

  • Tibet
  • Xinjiang
  • Democracy
  • Sex
  • Excellent
  • 4th June
  • Extreme

That is why foreign businesses in China must be careful and consider how to build a good message using the proper content. Businesses should also look out for “politically correct” information. For instance, in 2019 Versace, an Italian fashion house in China had some problems.

Chinese media reported that on a t-shirt sold by Versace in the country, there were names of cities with the wrong nation, in particular, Hong Kong and Macao were not listed as part of China. On social media, Versace was accused of attacking national sovereignty. This is just one of the many diplomatic accidents.

Since it can be easy to fall into these kinds of accidents, we suggest you contact agencies like GMA.

Nature Republic Weibo

Chinese PR: Social media already won over printed media

In just a decade, China has witnessed a staggering surge in the number of internet users. By December 2022, the world’s most populous country boasted a staggering total of approximately 1,067 million internet users, a significant increase from 772 million at the end of 2017.

This remarkable growth can be attributed not only to the widespread availability of broadband internet connections but also to the rapid adoption of mobile internet usage. In fact, mobile devices have played a pivotal role in driving the expansion of internet users in China, surpassing desktop usage by a significant margin.

The market revenue of the public relations industry in China from 2008 to 2018

A staggering 99.6 percent of Chinese internet users now access the web through their mobile phones, highlighting the dominance of mobile technology in the country’s digital landscape.

The proportion of citizens reading on mobile phones, tablets, personal computers, or iPads, too, had increased from the year before.

Chinese people’s changing reading habits as mobile phones enable access to reading materials on highly efficient digital platforms. More than half of the Chinese are inclined to digital reading, particularly on mobile phones. This concerns not only books but also reading the news. It is therefore important to adapt your China public relations strategy to the social media landscape and to your target audience.

The Rise of Social Media Platforms in China

In recent years, China has witnessed a tremendous rise in the popularity and influence of social media platforms. With the largest online population in the world, the Chinese market offers immense opportunities for brands and businesses to connect with their target audience through these platforms.

Notable social media platforms in China include WeChat, Weibo, Douyin (known as TikTok internationally), and Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu).

Importance of Leveraging Social Media for PR Campaigns

Social media has become an indispensable tool for effective PR campaigns in China. These platforms provide a direct and interactive channel for brands to engage with their audience, build brand awareness, and shape their reputation.

With millions of active users on social media platforms in China, businesses can leverage these platforms to disseminate key messages, share company news, and address customer concerns in real time. Social media also allows for the creation of viral content, generating buzz and attracting widespread attention.

Strategies for Engaging with Chinese Social Media Influencers

Engaging with Chinese social media influencers, also known as Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), has become an influential marketing and PR strategy in China. KOLs have large followings and hold significant influence over their followers’ purchasing decisions. To effectively engage with Chinese social media influencers, PR professionals can consider the following strategies:

  • Identify relevant influencers: Research and identify influencers who align with the brand’s values, target audience, and industry. Look for influencers with an engaged and active following.
  • Build relationships: Establish meaningful connections with influencers by reaching out, expressing genuine interest in their content, and offering collaboration opportunities.
  • Tailor content: Collaborate with influencers to develop engaging and authentic content that resonates with their audience while aligning with the brand’s messaging and objectives.
  • Leverage live streaming: Live streaming is hugely popular in China. Partnering with influencers for live streaming sessions can help generate real-time interactions, increase brand visibility, and boost product/service exposure.
  • Monitor and measure impact: Continuously track and evaluate the impact of influencer collaborations. Monitor metrics such as reach, engagement, sentiment, and conversions to assess the effectiveness of the PR campaign.

The Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China

To ensure that your company does not come into conflict with any laws, this is the summary of The Advertisement Law of China.

An advertisement shall be prohibited from:

  • using, or using in a disguised form, the national flag, national anthem, national emblem, military flag, military song, or military emblem of the People’s Republic of China;
  • using, or using in a disguised form, the name or image of any state authority or its staff member;
  • using “national,” “highest,” “best,” or similar comparative words;
  • damaging the dignity or interest of the state or divulging any state secret;
  • disturbing social stability or damaging the public interest;
  • damaging personal or property safety or divulging individual privacy;
  • disturbing the public order or departing from a good social climate;
  • containing any obscene, pornographic, gambling, superstitious, horrible, or violent content;
  • containing any ethnically, racially, religiously, or sexually discriminatory content;

Public relations in a digital world is more about demolishing a brand than about building it, as shown in a recent quarrel between e-commerce giant Alibaba and the social networking Tencent.

How to Build a Positive Brand Image with Your China Public Relations Strategy?

As one of the important channel for public relations management, press release plays an essential role. It’s a strong tool to create relationships with media agencies. It’s also a great way to control the data newsworthy about your company, etc. Companies can either hire a PR agency in China or generate content by themselves and send it directly to journalists at Chinese media outlets.

A better website authority corresponds with a better Baidu ranking and this is vital for visibility. A press release usually also means a backlink. As it happens in Google in Western countries, the more backlinks you have to your website, the more authority it gets, giving you more chances to rank above your competitors.

Press releases are very useful in China as Chinese people do not easily trust new brands and new products because of the countless scandals they have been through. Having an authoritative voice speaking about you makes Chinese consumers rely on you.

Hold a press release conference for your Public Relations Strategy

A press conference is an event organized to officially distribute information and answer questions from the media. Press conferences can be announced in response to specific public relations issues.

They are a powerful tool to build a relationship with journalists and to answer questions. Press conferences are very appropriate for special occasions such as new product launches, important breakthroughs, or responding to scandals and controversies.

Some of the best Chinese Media Sites

Xinhua News: The Official Media of the Chinese Government

Xinhuanet is said to be the official media outlet of the Chinese government, only publishing news that aligns with the government’s initiatives. As one of the most trusted sources of news in the country, it’s naturally also grown to become one of the largest. It provides a wide variety of content that covers social issues, international news, military, travel, education, etc.

Xinhua publishes news articles every day in 7 different languages (Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Arabic).

Getting featured on Xihua is the best method to gain the trust of your target consumers.

Toutiao Jinri: Chinese BuzzFeed

Toutiao is an application owned by ByteDance that acts as a news aggregator. With more than 200 million active users and content receiving 4.2 billion views every day, it is considered the # 1 platform for content delivery. Its particularity is to be integrated with artificial intelligence and machine learning software, which creates a personalized newsfeed for each user.

This way, everyone sees what best suits the content they interacted with in the past. Toutiao is therefore an excellent database of consumer information and one of the best Chinese apps for targeted advertising.

Toutiao also welcomes individuals and organizations to publish their own content on the platform by opening a Toutiaohao account. According to its official website, more than 1.1 million Toutiaohao accounts have been opened, including media organizations, companies, individual writers, and columnists.

Public Relations in China – Examples

Shiseido Company has become the first Japanese company to sign an agreement with UN Women (the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) to lead the promotion of gender equality in Japan and China where the gender gap is still big and the emancipation of women.

The present agreement has been reached as both parties pursue the same cause: Shiseido actively supports women’s advancement while UN Women centers its efforts on gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide.

Going forward, Shiseido will aim to realize a society where each and every individual can make their own life choices and fulfill their potential regardless of gender. To this end, the Company will launch gender education programs for the younger generation, promote the UN Women’s #HeForShe initiative inside and outside the Company, and support various other programs.

Created by UN Women, the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality provides a systematic approach and targeted platform where a global audience can engage and become change agents for the achievement of gender equality in our lifetime. HeForShe invites people around the world to stand together as equal partners to craft a shared vision of a gender-equal world and implement specific, locally relevant solutions for the good of all of humanity.

Contact us to develop your Public Relations Strategy in China


Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a digital marketing agency that is an expert in helping foreign companies to establish or strengthen their position in China market. We can help your brand increase sales in China, thanks to our services like:

  • Advertising
  • Baidu SEO&SEM
  • Social Media
  • PR
  • KOL & Influencers
  • E-commerce and cross-border e-commerce
  • Distribution
GMA - most visible digital agency

Contact us to discuss it further!

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