PR in China: A $4.4bn industry
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
President/Editor-in-Chief

PR in China: A $4.4bn industry

Arun Sudhaman

Hong Kong was the venue for our second Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards ceremony last week, and my trip also included a Holmes Report roundtable in Beijing, held in conjunction with Fleishman-Hillard. The roundtable discussed the public relations challenges that continue to bedevil the international expansion plans of Chinese brands. A full round-up will appear on the site soon, along with some separate analysis of a couple of interesting trends that are emerging from China's rapidly evolving PR market. And that market, at the risk of sounding painfully trite, is certainly growing quickly. This much was brought home to me by the comments from one of the roundtable panellists,  CIPRA EVP and secretary-general Zhao Dali. Zhao noted that, by the end of 2011, CIPRA estimates the size of the Chinese PR market at around $4.4bn. Frankly, that is a remarkable number - particularly when you consider our own conservative assessment of global PR market size: $10bn Some qualification would not go amiss. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a broad definition of public relations, but many local Chinese firms include billings from media buying and advertising services that would not rarely be included in other markets. In addition, it would not be surprising to find that CIPRA's estimate is boosted by in-house activity, rather than a strict calculation of agency income. Finally, CIPRA's own report describes this figure as turnover rather than earnings. Regardless, it is impressive growth, not least when you consider that the PR industry has only really been present in China for a couple of decades. And, it should be said, much of the spending is driven by multinational companies, rather than domestic players. That situation, as Zhao pointed out, is also changing - pointing to a rosy economic future for China's PR market.
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