2020 has not been easy for many businesses, certainly not for those in Hong Kong. After close to six months of social unrest, the year began with the outbreak of COVID-19. What’s more, the National Security Law imposed on Hong Kong in June, has brought more uncertainty to the economy.
The recent changes in Hong Kong may seem unprecedented, however, Hong Kong is no stranger to change, having dealt with several shake-ups in the past few decades.
In the 50s’, Hong Kong evolved from being a strategically located port to a manufacturing hub for Asia. However, Chinese economic reform prompted manufacturers to relocate to mainland China, leading Hong Kong to once again transform, this time into a commercial and financial hub in the 60s’.
After the handover in 1997, Hong Kong had to navigate both the SARS epidemic in 2003 and the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, two periods that tested the city’s resilience and ability to adapt.
The 2010s saw Hong Kong become the springboard for global brands entering mainland China and the window for Chinese brands eyeing global audiences.
All of these points to one key trend – change. And highlight how, despite the odds and circumstances, Hong Kong has powered through everything it’s faced.
The question is, how are we going to do it this time?
Hong Kong companies are known for their practicality and ability to adapt and initiate changes. Staying still has never come naturally to Hong Kongers. With the city thrust into the international spotlight due to recent events, brands here need to pivot and find a position that will continue to resonate with their audiences.
PR and marketing teams are best suited to respond to this – think of them as thermostats for your business. If equipped with the right tools and information, these teams have the ability to make sense of external pressures and guide your business to respond accordingly.
If you are a business looking for some guidance on how to thrive in Hong Kong during this time, here’s how PR and marketing teams can help:
They understand the external environment
PR and Marketing teams do not solely exist to put out advertisements and create sales kits, they are trained to communicate, negotiate and solve problems. That means they can provide insights on external market dynamics and analysis on how your competitors are faring and responding. This is key in helping to find the next “blue sea opportunity” for your business, as well as devising the right strategies and tactics to benefit from it.
They provide useful information to facilitate decision making
When the market is rapidly changing, it is important for businesses to take a moment to gain deeper understanding of how they want to be seen and understood by audiences as landscapes shift.
This is becoming more challenging in a time where every brand is competing on various fronts to get their voices heard, and where one false step can result in lasting negative perceptions. This make it all the more important to gather feedback from your stakeholders both within and outside of your business. Whether it’s employees, partners, clients, prospects or industry peers, their views can give you new perspectives on the broader picture of the market and a businesses place in it. Better internal buy-in will also give you a stronger position from which to pivot, maximizing the impact of existing resources. Marketing audits, for example comprehensive media and social media analysis or brand health checks, are a good place to start.
They can help pick your next battle
One key mechanism in responding to change is prioritisation. We all want to achieve a lot but the reality is that during this time we are faced with several limitations, so using resources wisely is of utmost importance. Do you want to expand new channels, enter new markets, reach new customers or develop new products? Should you start with one or go for all at once? Have your PR and marketing team sit down with your business teams to map out possible scenarios before building out an informed and targeted strategy to turn challenges into opportunities.
It is still too early to conclude what 2020 might bring for businesses in Hong Kong. But I’m sure that, as in previous decades, we will not fear uncertainty and change, but rather hitch a ride and brave the storm.