Let your PR roar louder this Year of the Tiger

By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. 

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy Chinese New Year!

In the new episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, I shared some thoughts about the importance of, not just the Chinese New Year, but also all events that could be possible ways for you to reach out to your audience — be it your journalists, customers, members of your staff, or partners. 

Events and moments in calendars are prime opportunities for public relations. And in my podcast, we can take a quick look at the Chinese New Year.

The Impact of the Chinese New Year

It’s the Year of the Water Tiger this year. 

There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac and personally, I’m a Year of the Horse (1967). If you don’t know your Zodiac sign, it’s easy enough to find them on the internet. The Zodiac animals include the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and the pig. There are 12 of them and they’ve been in use since the Han Dynasty. The history of the Han Dynasty spans from 206 BC to 220 AD.

The establishment of the Zodiac signs underpins a lot of Chinese culture. This time of the year is a big time for people to give appreciation, families to come together, and business people to give gifts of mooncakes (which are nice round cakes). These cakes can come in packs of 6, 12, or 24. And people actually spend a lot of money on them.

I lived in Beijing, China from 2006 to 2018. In fact, I went to China on my 39th birthday as part of a new adventure. I had moved there from Singapore where I’d lived since 1995. 

The reason I’m raising this is that the Chinese New Year — which falls anywhere between the end of January and the first couple of weeks of February (it’s a 15-day holiday) — will impact anybody that you’re dealing with in the Far East. 

If you’re working for the next few days, as we are in media relations, you’ll find that almost no one is doing any work. In mainland China, they won’t be in, possibly, for up to two weeks. They won’t be answering their emails for seven days. 

If COVID restrictions were not in place, then you would also witness one of the largest migrations in the history of mankind wherein over a billion railway rides are taken over a period of two weeks. Enormous volumes of people travel back to the countryside to see their families; others travel from city to city. 

What Can You Do?

On a cultural basis, the Chinese New Year makes a huge impact on everybody. From a business point of view, it’s a very, very good time for public relations because there’s a lot of cultural traditions tied up in this.

Image from Unsplash

One of the simplest things that you can do if you’ve got a business that has anything to do with China or Chinese (whether it’s your partners, customers, or staff), is to say a simple “Gong Xi Fa Cai,” which means “We wish you good fortune,” or “Xin Nian Kuai Le.” These are easy enough to say and easy enough to find on the internet.

Also, you can go to the internet and do a Google search for images for Happy New Year Chinese. You can download any graphics you like and drop them into your LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook — in the same way that you’d say Happy Easter, Happy Christmas, or Happy New Year. 

For the Chinese, their New Year is a big event because it ushers in a sense of a whole new start and opportunities.

In the Western or Gregorian calendar, we’re sort of numbers-based. We just move from one onto the other and each year doesn’t have a theme. We have our horoscope (e.g. Capricorn, Cancer, Aries, and so on) and these are months and are supposed to trace some characteristics.

However, in China, a new horoscope comes around every 12 years. So every 12 years is a Horse Year, for example. That means I have a cohort of other Horse-Year people but because they’re only every 12 years, they’re not that frequent. This creates some sense of loyalty — an affinity — with people that share those years with you.

In China, people are giving gifts to each other. For younger people, they give Hong Bao, which is the red packet where they’re putting in money. 

My daughters, who are half-Chinese, received electronic packets from their grandmother and aunt in Shanghai through WeChat. Through WeChat, they’re able to pay money from their wallet and put that into a red packet. My daughters here in the UK can open their WeChat, and that money goes into their WeChat, which they can spend. Unfortunately, they can’t spend it here. They have to give that money to their mother in return for a pound sterling; then their mother will spend the money on WeChat when she goes back to China. 

There’s a whole ecosystem around gifting — not just in the physical world but in the online world as well. 

Again, if you’ve got staff somewhere around the world, you can send little digital red packets or gift cards to people who will find that as a really special way of saying “Thank you.”

 A lot of people now are using WeChat around the globe who are not mainland Chinese. And there are many mainland Chinese who are living around the world who might be working for you. So finding a way to say “Thank you” or “Happy New Year” with the Year of the Water Tiger as the prompt is just another way to build a relationship.

Image from Unsplash

What the Chinese New Year Means for Media Relations

If you’re doing media relations, this is also an opportunity to start to couch anything that you want to send to the media in terms of the Year of the Tiger. 

We’ve done some work for a client where we did an outlook for the Year of the Tiger. It’s for a telecommunications company and we’re getting them coverage in an Asian publication. In the West, we say, for example, “Year 2022: Predictions for the Future.” This holds true as well for the media in Asia or any Asia-facing media. 

This actually gives you two opportunities in the media because you can do your Gregorian calendar (Here’s our predictions for the Year 2022) and then come back again and say your predictions for the Year of the Tiger. They should probably be fairly similar to one another unless you’ve changed your mood and mind within one month. 

Nevertheless, every event — whether they’re Chinese New Year, Easter, or Christmas — is a moment that you can use for your PR. They all create what you might consider a hook. They create a reason why people are reflecting on the future or on what’s happened for a certain section of the population. 

In the case of people who were born in the Year of the Tiger, they and their stories will become of interest because they’re topical at the moment. What you can do is to use these events, like the Year of the Tiger, as a way to prompt conversations with your own team, partners, and, also, the media. 

I’m sharing this because I think that taking opportunities from the calendar lets you tell a story about your business or someone who’s helped your business — whether the event is a large-scale cultural one like the New Year, a romantic one like Valentine’s Day, or something to do with a sport like the Australian Open.

With this, I again say, Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai! I wish you all the best for the Year of the Tiger. I’m very grateful to you for listening to my podcast. I really hope that my show is giving you something to help you get the kind of coverage and the recognition that you and your business deserve. 

This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.

Cover image by Jared Berg on Unsplash.

The post Let your PR roar louder this Year of the Tiger appeared first on EASTWEST Public Relations.

About Jim James

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.

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