Understand the media landscape
Hongkongers interact with media via a variety of different channels, including printed newspapers and magazines, online portals, social media, and broadcast. Print media still plays an important role in Hong Kong, and a number of international publications, such as The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal Asia, and the International New York Times are also published here.
However, several local print outlets have closed down or gone digital in recent years thanks to the rising popularity of online media and mobile devices. A number of new online publications are also gradually emerging here – with an increasing number of Hongkongers’ preferring to access media via their phones, the online media landscape is more competitive than ever. In order to stand out, some publications are finding new ways to attract and entertain their audience – for example, one of the most popular outlets in Hong Kong runs a dedicated portal for online video news reporting, producing attention-grabbing animated news videos.
How to pitch – English media vs Chinese media
Hong Kong media, in particular Chinese-language media, are extremely busy. Receiving hundreds of press releases every day, they are unlikely to read your long, wordy emails. Sometimes you need to give them a ring, but remember to keep it brief and to the point.
George Chen, Head of Public Policy of Facebook (Hong Kong & Taiwan) and former Managing Editor of the International Edition of the South China Morning Post, stressed that PR folks need to focus on the “so what” element – why a piece of news is important to the media and readers – before calling a publication. Don’t forget to call at the right time – journalists have their own working schedules. For instance, local news media will usually be out of office in the afternoon, and get super busy in late afternoon with meetings and editorial deadlines, while finance and business media are more active at night.
Given there are only a few major English publications in Hong Kong – and lots of companies competing for coverage – it can be very challenging to secure a media opportunity in these titles. Therefore, your pitch angles and your relationship with journalists are the key to beating your PR peers. Press materials in both Chinese and English languages for media are critical, so make sure your PR team is proficient in both languages.
Face-to-face meetings – still popular
Face-to-face meetings, such as luncheons, press conferences, media briefings and product launch events are welcomed by Hong Kong journalists. Trends and survey reports on topics like salary rates and the economy in Hong Kong are of great interest to media, and they are keen to dig out additional figures and insights from the meetings.
While most of the media here are proficient in English, it is a good idea to have a local spokesperson who can speak Cantonese, the most commonly-used language in town, to present at meetings. This will encourage journalists to have more interactions and deeper conversations with spokespeople.
Are they the right targets? Is your media database up-to-date?
It is not surprising to see Hong Kong journalists frequently move between publications, and industries. Therefore it is a must to keep your database updated so you don’t end up reaching out to the wrong contacts.
Of course, you can call publications one-by-one to identify relevant journalists, but this is extremely time-consuming and annoying (to both PR and media! Trust me, I’ve had a hard time doing this before…). But if your agency is subscribed to a comprehensive media database – like we have at LEWIS Hong Kong – then all you need are just a few keywords and clicks to get you all the right names and contact details!
Do you have any other tips on PR in Hong Kong, or your local countries? Share your thoughts with us below!