China going global

How communicators can help Chinese companies to engage international audiences

Image: Thinkstock

 

Chinese companies seeking to engage global audiences face several challenges, many of which are rooted in culture. Overcoming them is the job of the professional communicator.

It was way back in the late 1990s when I started paying attention to China. Enrolled in an international relations programme, we were studying new concepts with catchy names like ‘soft power’ and how sovereign states use it to develop their own cultural cache. We’ve since been inundated with content expounding the global village we all live in today. My experience is that the local environment, values, cultures and other elements where we live are very powerful drivers of perception that are sometimes insurmountable regardless of how “international” one may seem. China’s culture is one such dynamic that, although the country has been changing radically since the “Reform and Opening up” engagement with the west, is still incredibly focused on being ‘Chinese’ and may be interpreted as being inward focused. This may be an oversimplification, but the cultural values of the Chinese are unique and pose unique challenges for Chinese organisations as they communicate with global audiences.