Chuck Gao's PR Blog

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

Month: March, 2014

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?


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