Traditional PR techniques are falling out of favour in China’s marketing industry, to be replaced by a more digitally savvy marketing approach, according to a recent PR Scope study conducted by R3.

The results of the study suggest that 59% of marketers now consider digital capabilities an important factor when choosing which PR agency to work with.

Along with digital skills, the study reveals that creativity is also much in favour among Chinese brands. This is forcing many Chinese PR agencies to reconsider their recruitment and selection policies, and leading to a fight for the limited pool of talent available.

Factors driving the trend

So what has brought about these changes? According to PR week, it is largely fuelled by the rise of social media in China and a general trend towards digital marketing that we’ve seen worldwide. If they are going to stay competitive, PR agencies need to hire employees with digital expertise, a challenge when there is a relatively small pool of talent in a rapidly growing industry.

Traditional PR agencies that measure results through communication output rather than impact on consumer behaviour and sales are falling out of favour among clients who are becoming more aware of the necessity to increase digital engagement, bring traffic to their sites and improve their search visibility.

While there are many organisations that take a separate approach to their traditional PR and digital PR, using different agencies for each, the agencies that can offer both in one place are going to have a strong competitive edge both now and in the future.

What the big brands want

The need for digital PR skills is only going to grow in China, as more and more brands look to increase their online and social media visibility as a way to grow their sales, rather than just create a buzz around their products or services. Having a standardised reporting system and methods of tracking the results of digital PR are also going to be looked on favourably both now and in the future.

While digital is gaining in popularity, it’s important to keep some perspective. According to the results of the study, there are still other criteria that are currently more in demand than digital skills among brands when selecting an agency to work with. These include credibility, creativity, press relations and the ability to take a strategic approach.

The advertising and marketing worlds have shifted over towards a digital focus in recent years and it’s clear from R3’s study that PR is following in these footsteps.

Digital skills are going to be advantageous for any brand or marketer who is interested in targeting the Chinese market.

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