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公关专家Ms.Evans关于奥运危机公关的访谈录  (下)

(2008-04-15 15:33:17)







Q: There are videos clarifying the facts on Tibet spread in YouTube and anti-CNN website set up by Chinese students.


Ms Evans: Here is the communication problem I am going to talk about. In theory, on the key facts of Tibet such as death tolls, the only source which supposed to be officially recognized by media and the western public is the spokesperson from government. From the information you have sent me, I can see that there are controversies on the exact number of the death tolls. Your government gave the number of nineteen by March 22nd; however the profiles of the victims are not given and no further information were given, and journalists had absolute no access to the information since they can’t go to Tibet themselves and the government didn’t respond to questions. The situation had provoked huge suspiciousness among the western media. Remember the media relations we talked about in class? The thing pisses off the journalists the most is that you don’t let them do their job. However if you watch closely of what these organizations such as Tibet Youth Congress do, you will see they have a system to work with the media, regardless how much support they get from the majority of Chinese or Tibetans. They have a complete platform, they have press release from day one, and they make efforts to get media coverage. The key knowledge we bear in mind as publicist, is that when journalists have to work on news, they are not happy to be challenged to beg you to talk; especially you were in bad terms with them already. If you were not going to talk, they would let the other party talk in order to have something to write about.


I understand the situation in Tibet right now is not a simple PR issue and needs of lot of political calculation, but the principles of media relations applies everywhere. If the Beijing government have something more to care about than the image of the nation, then it might be justifiable to ignore the media; if not,  from what I have seen, there is a large space of improvement needs to be done on the media relations of Beijing government and western media.


And in the regard of the websites and videos released by Chinese youth generations, I can see that they have the spirit of spreading their voices around the world, and I admire how active they have engaged themselves in delivering their own messages to the western public. This a great progress made by the youth of Chinese, it absolute amazed me.


Q:  But their actions have been described by some western journalists as the outcome of being brainwashed by the education they received.


Ms. Evans: Personally, I will say such statement is unethical and irresponsible because all opinions should be respected. Then again, you have to see different layers of media coverage to work as a publicist. The priority of our job is to get the facts out there so the public can easily locate them if they need to. It is a big no-no for journalists to fabricate the facts, so this layer of our job can be controlled. Then the second layer of PR effort is to do our best to influence as many journalists as we can to shape their opinions, however this effort might not be paid back since you will never know what the journalists is going to comment about you until you see the papers yourself. For editorials and commentaries, the position of the articles is decided by the media and journalists based on the facts you provided, that’s why maintaining a functioning media relations is so crucial for publicists.


So now we can see the problem here: though the Chinese people themselves had made great effort to speak up, the official communication channel is completely shut down. As audience themselves, the Chinese people should be valued on their feedbacks to the events, but they are not justifiable to give out or verify the news. Also, since the public is not trained media professionals, their messages sometimes are extreme or emotional, and messages like this will be considered less of credibility and inclined to used as news resource.


Q: Then what you suggest the official communication channels do if they decide to work up?


Ms. Evans: I have watched the video clip you sent me made by CCTV, and it could be edited into a VNR (Video News Release) released by the spokesperson. I strongly advise them to do a complete media kit on the subject, which should include: first, media fact sheets on the facts of Tibet such as the Financial support spent on Tibet annually, numbers of temples and monks, the literate rate, average income of Tibetans, ratios of Tibetans versus Han Chinese live in Tibet, etc. Second, press releases stating the position of government and Chinese people; third, profiles of victims and one on one interview with the survivors of the riot. What you would make in addition to the media kit, dear?


Q: Ah, maybe I will include the official pictures taken on the scene. I know the major controversy about the western coverage of the event is that they had cropped the pictures to serve their biased position.


Ms. Evans: That’s a smart move. After we had compiled enough information on the subject, we also want to include a list of contacts that can be reached when the journalists had questions. You know in real life scenarios such as product launch, the publicists are supposed to be reached 24/7. If the journalists can’t reach you when they have to do coverage, they will be pissed off then you would have a bad record with them.


Q: Does Media tour help too?


Ms. Evans: Definitely, if we can find the key speakers we mentioned before to talk on the issues. The media tour gives the media the opportunity to shoot questions and get answers. At this point, any openness in the communication helps improving the media relations.


Q: But how can we get through the media clutters going on right now to get our voices to the public?


Ms. Evans: Be discreet in differentiating the media channels. Different media has different agenda and preference in covering the news, so we publicists need to be familiar with these nuances that might favor us. Also, do find out the journalists who are better informed on the issue, and those who are willing to go deeper. Because the more the journalists are educated on the subjects, the more accurate and objective the coverage would likely to be. For example, since the Economist Journalist James Miles was the only foreign journalist during the Lhasa riot, his coverage of the event we can see was more objective compared with the foreign media who were not presented.

M女士:谨慎地区分媒体频道。不同的媒体有着不同的议题和倾向, 因此公关人员应该对这些有可能倾向我们的细微的区别十分熟悉。另外,(我们)要找出那些更为熟悉这个问题的,以及愿意做深度报导的记者。因为记者在论题上越熟悉,他们的报导的准确性和公正性的可能性就越高。比如,经济学家的记者James Miles曾是LA SA暴动期间唯一亲临的外国记者,那么我们可以看到他的报导就比其余不在场的外国媒体要中立。

However, we should be prepared that media relations are not to be changed overnight. What I would advise to do currently, is to always stay positive and keep the communication channels unblocked. Even if get stumbled at one moment, keep the long term communication strategy in mind. What matters now is the Beijing Olympic Games on August, so my best advice would be: open up, find the right direction, and keep trying. This is the spirit for all publicists to handle crisis.





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