Chuck Gao's PR Blog

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” – Daniel J. Boorstin

Holiday is past tense now!

Came back from holiday two days before, the first day of my internship is finally here! it’s my first job in the PR realm, and the company is what I’m dreaming for, everything’s spectacular, but I’m rather panic rather than excited. This is my first job in London, and I dont have any work experience working in UK. Realising I’m going to be a master graduate, I eventually clam down my mind and decide to do some research to  get ready for my first day. The hardest question for me is quite tricky: what should a PR intern wear? I was wearing a suit when I attending the interview, but I had found everyone in the company were wearing in smart causal.

 So I did a lit bit research about PR professional’s dress code. however, there are just few results i had got from google, and what even worse was I can not find even one mentioning male’s outfit, so I suppose this is probably because the majority of PR practitioners are female, or this may just means male PR practitioners were too busy to write something about their outfit? even they just wear whatever they want and dont put too much attention on it.

“In the (many) years since graduation, I’ve made my way through this minefield in stages. The first stage was the “suit” stage where I was so excited to join the workforce and so keen to be taken seriously that I spent a clean fortune on suits and crisp, uncomfortable shirts to wear underneath them. I then learned that unless you drive a snazzy car to work with a VIP parking spot right next to the front door, suits are completely impractical. They get wet, they don’t keep you warm and the trousers wear out well before the jackets.”

I finally found something useful for me which suggest that I dont have to wear a suit for work, how exciting this news is:)

PS: I posted some photos on my Flickr of travel in Paris and Italy, have a look!


Does PR Have a Dresscode?


Worst Crisis Communication in 2014 – Flight MH370

Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein at a news conference

Firstly,  I want to express my deeply sorrow for the people who passed away in the air crash.

The tragic mystery surrounding the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has captured the airwaves worldwide since 8th March. As the story has changed in real time since then, there can’t be many communicators who haven’t looked at what’s happening and wondered how on earth they’d handle such an unprecedented crisis situation.

Unfortunately,due to the poor handling and misinformation, Malaysia Airlines’s PR team have been much slammed for the public relations over the incident. As a matter of fact, it as one of the worse examples of crisis management ever seen.

MH370 relatives

relatives holds a plate says “we need truth”

Here are some fault they made in the crisis communication:

The airline took too long to let the public know the plane was missing and has appeared to be withholding information

Waiting until after the plane was due to land before announcing that it was missing appears to have been a mistake. The airline’s response has been that first it wanted to ensure that families were personally informed and cared for and that it wanted to secure as many facts as possible before announcing. These are both noble and also traditional approaches but in an always on world of rolling news and digital media, they were not seen as acceptable.

The airline and the authorities have been defensive and speculation rife

In a high profile situation like this, the media machine and the public crave information. Experts provide opinion and when there is a deficit of facts, speculation fills the void. From the stories of passengers who checked in but did not board to the pilot’s political affiliations, news channels, websites and social media have picked up and followed these trails. This has meant that most of the 20 media statements have had to include some form of denial or clarification.

There is no resolution

This is the central tragedy of the situation. For the most part, Malaysia Airlines and the country’s government have adhered to the first of the ‘R’s of crisis aftermath – Regret. But as yet, the ‘Reason’ is still unknown and there can be no ‘Recovery’ without finding that plane.

“Malaysia Airlines has not taken on an external agency to help with its handling of the crisis. However, it does have a handful of agencies around the world from which it could seek advice, such as Perowne Charles Communications in the UK, headed by former global communications director at Virgin Atlantic Paul Charles.” said by Brooke, whose agency Rooster handled Malaysia Airlines’ UK consumer PR in 2008-09.

although it is a  extreme circumstance but it’s no doubt that many more  measures could have been taken to give more control in this very difficult situation.

Anyway, here’s hoping that there is some news very soon.


Analysis: Malaysia Airlines’ mishandled response to the MH370 crisis

MH370: Inmarsat hints Malaysia delayed data on plane’s location

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: now the plane is ‘lost’, what next?

Further Reading:

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

MH370 Flight Incident

Flight MH370, crisis public relations and social media

Crisis Communications – Malaysia Airlines and the missing MH370

From First Lady to First Lady–Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan

Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, shows U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, center, how to hold a writing brush

I still remember when I saw a news of princes Kate, I was shocked by the beauty of first lady. In that time, few in or out of China knew the names of previous first ladies, except of our only female emperor Wu Zetian. Anyway, I am very glad that we now have a first lady since last year. Peng Liyuan, China’s first high-profile first lady since the late wife of Mao Zedong. Before her husband’s accession to power, Peng Liyuan was already famous as one of the China’s star singers. She became first lady since her husband Xi Jinping was elected for Chinese President. Peng promotes rural education and campaigns against tuberculosis for the World Health, and as a matter of course, she has raised high expectations from Chinese people.

Similarly, people’s anticipation of American first lady’s visiting is also very high in China. Chinese people are bored by the meeting between presidents,  but this is the first time Michelle Obama, the American first lady could fin her match in China, between past Chinese first ladies and American first ladies, there really hasn’t been much interaction.

First lady can always generate lots of attention, they shouldering the national image, and even reputation. As first ladies go, she has dominated the global stage. Her fashion choices drive retail sales, her causes draw headlines and her popularity at home is high.


Chinese First Lady’s fashion choices are always media’s focus

Peng Liyuan invited Michelle Obama in her own name to visit China. It makes China look like a representative government system. It has a more political flavor. Obama’s decision to accept the invitation could begin to repair lingering disappointment in China over a skipped opportunity to meet Peng last year when she and President Xi flew to California for a meeting with President Obama.

It makes me think of  a character from popular American political TV series house of cards – Claire Underwood, she plays the wife of  leading actor Frank Underwood, who climb from Secretary of State to Vice president, in the shows, she was raising her husband’s image and reputation by carry out public welfare projects.

The word First lady has a long standing history in western countries, but in China,we still standing on the starting line.


Michelle Obama Tours Beijing With China’s First Lady

Peng Liyuan: Folk singer who became China’s first lady

Further Reading:

Michelle Obama’s Visit To China Sparks ‘Fashion Showdown’ With China’s First Lady

Michelle Obama pushes soft diplomacy on visit to China

China claims victory in battle of first ladies

How Far Is It Between Google To China

Google had a strong financial performance on 2013. They not only had met their financial obligations, but also performed far better than expected. The latest Google financial report (third quarter 2013) shows that Google stock surpasses US$1000 for first time, and according to Siliconrepublic, Google noted a third-quarter net profit of US$2.97bn – a rise of 36.5pc – amounting to US$8.75 per share. The strong financial performance can also been traced on the share price.Google’s stock price rose 58.4 percent in 2013, breaking the $1,000 mark for the first time, while annual revenue increased 21 percent to $55.5 billion. Most of stakeholders are confident and being positive about company’s future because its financial performance. According to CNN, Google revealed Tuesday that its former CEO, Eric Schmidt, will receive $106 million in bonuses based on the search giant’s 2013 performance. This new generated lot of coverage and business review also blogs, mostly of people shows their confidence about Google’s financial performance. Moreover, Socialmention shows the sentiment towards Google is either positive (approximately 50%) or neutral (approximately 80%).

However, the company’s performance in China doesn’t seem to be very optimistic, according to China Internet Watch’s latest report, Google’s China search engine market share by revenue in Q4 2013 accounted for just 11.9%, which was roughly 65 percent lower than Baidu (76.6%), the China search engine giant.



The statistic made a striking contrast compare with the search engine market in other counties in the globe market like UK. (See pie chart below)



As the chart shows, Baidu remained its leading position in China search engine market. Both its efforts on PC and mobile devices contributed to its achievements. However, Google China’s market share dropped slightly. As the competition among search engines became more fierce. What’s more, Google had been losing its product managers and IT elites in China, Google’s market share was encroached bit by bit. It’s worth noting that, Prior to pulling out of the country, Google’s search engine controlled 29% of the Chinese market.

This situation is mainly because Google pulled out of China in 2010 as a result of numerous hacking attacks on the U.S. that originated from inside the country. Despite the fact that China has more than 560 million people who use the Internet, Google has no plans to return its services there. CNET reports that during Google’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt said he was “troubled by continued reports of censorship and spying on people” by the Chinese government. He explained that until China changes the way it treats its citizens, Google has no plans to invest more resources into the country.

China Google

Anyway, China is too tempting a market for Google to write off. Many clues shows Google is planning going back to China. According to local media sources, it appears that over the weekend, the homepage of the Chinese Google domain was quietly made accessible. Moreover, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said on January that the tech giant’s encryption services could eventually open up countries with stringent censorship rules, which means China is definitely a jigsaw of company’s future plan.


Eden, C. and Ackermann, F. (1998) Making Strategy: The Journey of Strategic Management, London: Sage Publications.


Endorsement Is Regain Its Prosper On Instagram

If you are a frequently Instagram user, you may already found your favourite brand are posting user’s content on their brand account, or your favourite blogger is tagging a brand or another Instagram account on his / her posts. The endorsement is now can be found regain its prosperity on Instagram.

“If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway”. Said Edward Bernays (1928) in his book Propaganda, “Third-party endorsement”, the indirect use of to plead for his clients, is one of Bernays’ favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion (Bakanovic, 2010). Even though public relations industry is a fast-changing industry, this technique doesn’t disappear over time.  It adds a new dimension to the third-party-endorsement thinking that has shaped PR practice since Bernays’ earliest days, the people who find you through social media and “endorse” you or your project have the ability to spread the word of your “greatness” through online channels much faster than word of mouth. In addition, that online audience may come back again and again (Hell, 2009).

One month ago, Jen Selter, 20, an Instagram star just landed her first endorsement deal.her job is promoting CIRRUS fitness products.”I think of Jen as a professional athlete, the No. 1 pick, her sport just happens to be fitness, and she found a way to make it happen,” CIRRUS CEO Jay Sapovits said. Slter said she believes her followers are interested in more than just her selfies and pert backside.”I get a lot of credit for posting selfies, but I also post messages of motivation and fitness tips. I try to be fresh. I’m aware of comments made about my body, but I get the most happiness when I receive emails or posts about people I’ve inspired,” she told Fox.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 13.34.56

A while back, Roxy Jacenko, who recently opened a talent agency for bloggers, revealed that “They (Celebrities) can get up to $650 per Instagram post – sometimes more depending on the number of followers.”

However, there is definitely not only celebrities & bloggers are involved in the game. The brand accounts have also doing the endorsement frequently, and the stats of likes says they are really works! (see pic below)

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 23.46.18

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 23.46.51


Hell. E Third Party Endorsements: Beyond Mainstream Media, Available from: [Accessed 09.03.2014]

Bakannovic. J The Men Behind the Curtain, Available from: [Accessed 09.03.2014]

Celebrity Instagrammers rake in cash with product endorsements, Available from: [Accessed 09.03.2014]

Jen Selter, who has almost 2 million Instagram followers, lands endorsement deal, Available from: [Accessed 09.03.2014]

I’ve Got A Great Campaign, Then What To Do?


Every successful campaign have a great idea, but not all the good campaign can succeed without finding target audiences rightly. Customers are becoming more sophisticated in the digital age than they used to be. They can easily get access to any information they want from the internet rather than just receive ads passively. To put this in perspective, 90 percent of consumers trust a recommendation from people they know, 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online, and 70 percent trust branded Web sites, according to Nielsen’s April 2009 Global Online Consumer Survey.

Even you have billions traffic, you still have your first batches of audience though. You should be grateful to them as they make you visible and they had generated word of mouth. That’s is to say, once you got your first batches audience and your campaign is sticky enough, they would stay on you, and bring friends visit you, then their friends’ friends would come as well. At last, user would increase exponentially at a dramatic rate.  

So how to find your target audiences?


Here are Five Tips to Reach Your First Batches of Audience More Effectively

1.Right Channel

To understand where your audiences spend their time, and which channel are they using most.

2.Right Content

Make sure your content is portable and shareable. To resonate with your audience as deep as you can, then they would come back and visit you again, and share it.

3.Right Value

To think what value you can add to your audience.

4.Right Positioning

To identify and target audience subsegments separately to ensure your message is presented precisely to meet their needs.

5.Right Forum.

Don’t forget forums, they are still effective, there are many potential audience in forums like Reddit, you need to be active and contributing to the community, and promote yourself, unconsciously.

Further Reading:

5 Social Media Tips for Finding and Engaging Your Target Audience: New Research

 How to Reach Your Target Audience

Identifying & Reaching Your Target Audience

How to Reach Your Audience in a Digital Age

PR Degree, Do Or Don’t?


Last week, My course leader Michaela had talked about weather people need a PR degree to work in this industry. Honestly, I never thought about this question before,since I had choose this course just as PR is my favourite Media & Communication related subject.  Undoubtedly, for most of professions, a related degree is must-have. Can you imagine a doctor who was not graduate from medical school or a software programmer who graduate from law school? that’s crazy, isn’t it?

But the problem is, PR probably is the only exception here in this world. Public Relations has undergone criticism and questioning ever since its invented. PR has always have a PR problem — the image.

“My heart always sinks when I meet new people and the inevitable urban question pops out: ‘So what do you do for a living?’  I tend to end my explanation, shortly before the eyes of the listener start to glaze, with the same line: ‘I work in PR, but it is not the PR that you think that you know.'”

——Benjamin Webb

People always associate bad images (such as unethical, spin, lobbying)  with PR.Some people even think PR is a craft rather than a profession. one of the reason for this situation is probably the low educational background entry standard of PR industry. Actually, some of the most success PR companies  had started with just a telephone and a office table.

I just had looked at Webber Shandwick’s leadership, sadly, none of them are holding a PR degree. Actually, most of the leaders had graduated from literature major like English or History.

Like other media major, what employer actually value is your experiences, your works, and your skills instead of your education background, so is a PR degree just waste of time? my answer is NO, absolutely not.

PR industry is same as other media major in terms of it is not an exact science and operates across various sectors, from healthcare to financial, this require us to grasp a broad range of knowledges rather than merely communication and marketing knowledges to keep us think outside the box. However, PR Students have their unbeatable advantages. PR students get to know the history and theories of comms, marketing, advertising and PR and all of this makes them better prepared for the world of PR. So that PR student tend to  have more perspective for the development of PR industry and they can do better in terms of associate PR to society. Trevor Morris, visiting professor of PR at Westminster University, believes the major benefits of PR degrees appear after graduates have spent two or three years in the industry. ‘That is when the depth and breadth of their PR understanding will have kicked in.’

Secondly, Since the job market are increasingly fierce in global context, the job related practice which included in PR degree made another solid advantage for PR student.You will get countless hours of writing practice, be exposed to numerous internship and networking opportunities, and most certainly experience personal and professional growth. If you are going to make mistakes, it’s better to do it surrounded by the comfort and constructive support of your school.

All in all, a successful career can not just based on a paper of educational certification, the only way for us to success is ball hard.


Viewpoint: Does public relations have a PR problem?

Careers: The pros and cons of a degree in PR

Further Reading:

Is a degree in public relations necessary for success?

Do you need a degree to work in PR?

Success by degrees

3 Things You Can Do with a Degree in PR or Communications When You’re Done with Classes

Are PR degrees worth it?

5 Key Social Media Metrics That Matter


As content and data gets bigger, most of companies have finally realised that at least some of them is important to their business. While when a marketers or a PR practitioner doing social media monitoring, they tend to overemphasising simple counts and totals. So what metrics are really matters and what metrics do u really need? here are 5 essential social media metrics that you can always start with.


Engagement is about how fans or target audiences participate and respond to your social media activities. Engagement is a conversation and involvement between target audiences and a brand. The level of engagement can be seen as an indicator of the success of the social media activity. What should be noticed is engagement is not only just numbers of followers or fans. In most of cases, Engagement should be measured by the number of Facebook likes, comments and shares; retweets and comments; Youtube views and comments; Pinterest repost; Instagram likes and comments and Tumblr notes.


Segmentation refers to identifying the target audiences into different subgroups by their needs, interests or behaviour, in order to reach them in the best way. A brand should not apply a “one-size-fits-all” strategy when curating social media platforms. A good segmentation ensures brand optimize its communication effect. The target audiences can be segmented by demographic data such as age, gender, geographic data, psychographic data, and also their behaviour.


Content refers to any posts, pictures, videos or infographics that the brand creates or curates on different online platforms. A good content should fit audience’s needs and interests. In this report, the content can be referred to Facebook posts; tweets and retweets on Twitter; Video on Youtube and imagines on Instagram.

Message Resonation

Message resonation is about whether a message created a buzz that audiences would want to share it, and how many repeating messages, quotes from tweets, mentions are generated from the message. The level of resonation is an effective way to measure “reach”.

Tone and Sentiment

 Tone and sentiment refers to the voices and attitudes from audiences, which can be measured as positive, negative or neutral. It can be tracked by analysing online comments, tweet mentions. Tools such as Twitter Sentiment, Social Mention and People Browser can be used to measure the sentiment around the brand. By analysing tone and sentiment, we could know the level of satisfaction towards the brand and also the potential problems and issues.


After all, A basic point we should make sure is — all social media metrics should be from the angle of your overall business strategy. Measure these analytics on the basis of how you’re doing in pursuit of those goals, and how would you utilise the metric results  to improve your social media strategy, and to better positioning your company in the marketplace.

Further reading:

It’s Time To Start Tracking The Right Facebook Metrics

Marketers Pick: The Best Metrics for Social Media Monitoring

5 Social Media Metrics You Should Be Monitoring

5 essential social media metrics to track and how to improve them

A Simple And Effective Way To Engage Audiences


I’m recently spending my limited spare time on study street photography. Last Chrismatmas , I took a short-term photography course at Central Saint Martin and then fallen in love with film camera, and I’m following a street photography blog as our tutor recommended.

Yesterday, I had look at a blog article writing about author’s philosophy on social media (link). There was a perspective he mentioned aroused my interest. He suggested to photographers that when they use social media, they should promote others instead of themselves.

Here are two quotes: “Going back to the analogy of social media being a party– nobody likes the guy at the party who brags about himself all day long (him graduating Harvard, buying a new BMW, earning over 100k a year, etc). People are turned off by braggers and people who are entirely self-promotional.” “I would say that the growth of my blog has mostly to do with the fact that I promoted other street photographers (not myself). The interviews I do with other photographers and collaborations I have done has brought more to my blog than simply my own thoughts and work. Also when you promote the work (and thoughts) of others– they feel stronger gratitude to you and are genuinely grateful. Everyone likes the guy who helps his/her friends– be that person.” This perspective is just as same as I had given in my social media metrics report by chance. The one I suggested was promote audiences updates. For the freelancer photographer, when they using social media, I think that works in the same way as a brand. What is to say, the process they use social media is, actually, building a brand for themselves. As Eric said in his blog, people are bored and tired to follow an account who are entirely self-promotional. I totally agree this point, on the contrary, when a professional promotes their customer’s updates, three great things happen: customer becomes excited and happy because their post received a social media boost. This is because they may gain some new followers by being posted on other account, especially the account that have hundred times followers as themselves. Customer becomes curious and begins to pay more attention on your updates. Audiences would found this is a interactive blog and they would want to be a part of it and put themselves under the lime light. Customer will return the favour in the future. There is one thing Eric didn’t mention, once we promote customer’s updates, apart of benefit from the goodwill created by other audiences, your content will be seen by audience’s followers, therefore, it will generate word of mouth and further benefit your account. No matter you are a professional or just a personal user, once you want to be engaging, you should know social media is not about self-promotion.


On Social Media and Street Photograph

Case Study–What Flappy Bird Tell Us


While angry bird has been much-loved figure, a bird that makes every one pissed off created a buzz recently. By now, the notorious game has become one of the viral success stories just like its predecessors such as temple run, fruit ninja and dump ways to die, to name but a few. Although its already been removed by creator Dong Nguyen, the legend is still continuing by its parodies and Ebay (see below).


one of the copycats


installed flappy bird game added value of devices

So who is flappy bird?


The three stages of the addictive “Flappy Bird” smartphone game: hope, adrenaline and grief.

Created in the span of two to three days by Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen, Flappy Bird is a side-scrolling mobile game featuring 2D retro style graphics. The objective is to direct a flying bird, which moves continuously to the right, between each oncoming set of pipes without colliding with them, which otherwise ends the game. The bird briefly flaps upward each time the player taps the screen, and the player is scored on the number of pipe sets the bird successfully passes through. Flappy Bird was originally released on May 24, 2013 with support for the iPhone 5.  In January 2014, it topped the Free Apps chart in the US and Chinese App Stores, and later on that month topped the same section of the UK App Store where it was touted as “the new Angry Birds.” It ended January as the most downloaded App on the App Store. Nguyen was raking in $50,000 (£30,000) a day from the pop-up ads that appeared during gameplay.

Why is it so addicted?


the growth of ranking

By now, most of critics still think flappy bird’s success was by incidental. Of course I can’t tell whether that’s true or not, but at least I can analyse why it makes people addicted. Here are 3 reasons I came up with:

  1. Conflict between simple & difficult. It easy to play, and it looks easy to get plenty of points like temple run or fruit ninja, but actually its insanely difficult, most of people spend a lot of times just in order to get out of 0. It is frustrating, but most of play don’t believe they are too dump to play this seemingly-simple game, so they try it again and again,
  2. Stockholm syndrome. People kept playing it, and they grew increasingly pissed off that I couldn’t score even 5 points, it is never ever seen from other games, so they hooked.
  3. You’re never going to beat it. People have naturally come to expect a learning curve that eases them into video games. Flappy Bird, which looks like an easy casual game, instead of having a learning curve, just drops you head first into a learning wall. For normal games, you can improve your skill by practice, but this theory is doesn’t work here.

a chart demonstrate “how to play” flappy bird

How did it go viral?

A good game makes players addicted, but the reason flappy bird standing out of others is, its not only make players crazy, but also created word of mouth. Only a few marketers dare to create a campaign or product, which let people hates a lot, but everyone hate flappy bird.

As I mentioned, people experience frustration from this game, so they just want to know whether their friends is as dump as they are, so they get their friends to download the game to see if they are fail as he got. One of the ways people have been trying to figure out if the game is hard or if it is them is by tweeting about it on twitter and posting videos on Vine. Since social media is a One to Many form of communication, this has lead to millions of people hearing about the game extremely quickly.

So I’d like to say that the success of flappy bird was a good lesson for marketers, it offers a new angle for strategy making—-think opposite.

The game had been removed from online stores last Sunday by its Vietnamese creator. Although he claims this was because the fame of game ruin his life, I think he is a marketing genius. He stopped this game at peak time to make a limited edition, and then he tells us he is still making games. As a matter of fact, Dong Nguyen have been uploaded three new games to App store. Will they succeed? We shall see soon after.


Useful links:


The World of Public Relations

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