On July 26, 2018, the Washington State China Relations Council convened the Corporate Executive Briefing Series with a presentation from Jerry Hendin on crisis communications in the Chinese market. Mr. Hendin has over 40 years’ experience working with companies to protect their reputations in times of crisis and was formerly vice president of Communications for Boeing, and prior to that, president and chief executive officer of Edelman Public Relations. Mr. Hendin’s wealth of professional experience contributed to an engaging discussion of international crisis communications for US companies operating in China.
Mr. Hendin outlined the specificities of China’s regulatory and media environment, noting the significance of social media within the Chinese public. He further analyzed the impact that social media can have on US-based brands operating in China, observing that “75% of people in China actively create content on social media compared with 25% of people in the US.” In this challenging media environment, Mr. Hendin advises that US-based companies designate a spokesperson on the ground in China who has both the authority to represent the company and the local knowledge to communicate effectively during time of crisis, which is key in preventing communicative mishaps.
As a part of his highly interactive presentation style, Mr. Hendin distributed a crisis communications exercise which engaged attendees to provide input and share from their business experiences. While working through this hypothetical crisis communications scenario, attendees discussed the various facets of navigating the challenges of public relations during a crisis. In conclusion, Mr. Hendin articulated three main takeaways for any company: conduct an internal risk audit, create a crisis communications plan, and train executives.
Summary author: Mengyao Liu