The world of communications in China is in a permanent state of disruption, and 2019 was no exception. Clients are growing more attuned to how diverse the Chinese market actually is across different tiered cities and are eager to explore new ways to tap into the preferences of the diverse demographics. This new line of thinking coincides with the tectonic shift in the industry from traditional PR to more purpose-driven communications that is able to produce measurable business outcomes.
Technology has played an almost central role in broadening one’s ability to achieve this, integrating communications more cohesively with digital and data and introducing disruptive trends such as AI, VR, AR and voice recognition to better appeal to, surprise and engage the predominantly mobile-first Chinese audiences. In fact, R3’s fifth annual survey of agencies in China revealed that more than half of the marketers and communications leaders interviewed were involved in some form of social communications, event/BTL marketing, advertising and digital marketing. This business landscape makes it increasingly important for consultancies to challenge the traditional agency model and pursue a more integrated and flexible form of communications.
Just last year at Ruder Finn China, the company began adopting a new Integrated Marketing Communications approach in all its client engagements, offering a complete arc of strategy, web, digital, online, media, social media and advertising capabilities. Teams now reflect a combination of integrated skills, expertise and resources that enable it to respond quickly to up-and-coming trends, leverage channels, devices and platforms trusted by consumers, and, most importantly, ensure that the company delivers creative, data-driven work for its clients.
When it comes to building strong teams, however, the industry needs more than just diverse skillsets; it also demands diversity in opinions and perspectives in the workplace. This means having more women in the room, in management and at the executive table, breaking barriers, leading decisions and driving the industry forward. Business performance today also supports the idea that having a diverse leadership results in more positive business outcomes.
A 2018 report by McKinsey found that companies in Asia-Pacific that were in the top quarter for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to achieve above-average profitability. In the communications industry, where women oftentimes make up the majority of the workforce, the major challenge is ensuring women in the workplace are given equal opportunity and support to advance to the most senior positions.
Currently, the global CEO of Ruder Finn, Kathy Bloomgarden, and Elan Shou, as Regional Director of Ruder Finn Asia, are both women. In the company’s Hong Kong office, for example, its account leads and General Manager are also women. Gender diversity is a core part of the Ruder Finn DNA.
As the group continues to strengthen its operations in China and across Asia-Pacific, empowering its teams and creating workplace environments that cater to the growth of both women and men remain as top priorities so that it would be able to charge ahead as a more inclusive, intuitive and successful business.