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The Asian Century: An opportunity for innovation over isolationism

By Rachel Catanach, President & Senior Partner, Greater China

In the words of Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin’.  Last year delivered two historic changes in the West: Brexit and the election of President Trump. The implications for international tax, trade and immigration are great. But from the Asian perspective, it is doubtful that these changes are for the greater good.

This new era in Western politics coincides with the Asian Century, the region’s race for growth. By 2050 Asia is expected to be as wealthy as Europe on a per capita basis and the signs of progress are already evident. After all, it’s Asian companies that are going global and Asian companies that increasingly feature on the Fortune 500 list. Take the 2016 list, for example: China alone offers over 100 companies, three of which rank among the top five.

From this position of strength, we see more foreign direct investment (FDI) by Chinese companies in the US. A recent report by the Rhodium Group, which examines FDI between China and the US, states that the volume of investment across industries has grown dramatically—on average more than 30% annually from 2011 to 2015. Yearly flows soared from less than $5 billion in 2011 to more than $15 billion in 2015—and are on track to double from that level in 2016. In 2015, Chinese FDI in the US exceeded US flows into China for the first time.

Asian businesses are vulnerable abroad in a post-truth era

But the Trump administration will undoubtedly challenge Asian companies, particularly those in China, who seek global expansion.  Many of them, particularly in sensitive areas such as technology, already face political opposition and isolationist policies will only further restrict their growth.

It is these technology companies—not just in China but all across Asia—that are driving innovation and earning the region the reputation for being one of the world’s most dynamic for e-commerce, social networking, ride sharing and gaming.

In China, for example, the likes of Alibaba and Tencent apply technology to create bold new business models such as Alipay and WeChat. These are not copycat products and services of Western offerings—they are truly disruptive.  They satisfy the needs of domestic consumers and create needs in Western consumers (wouldn’t you love to book your next holiday over text message?).

In this new era, Chinese internet companies will have specific reputational challenges to overcome. The upcoming PRC Cybersecurity Act will make it difficult for Chinese companies to reconcile the demands of their domestic and international stakeholders.

Chinese companies looking to invest in the US will also increasingly face scrutiny over their impact on national security. In November last year in Washington, a Congressional Commission recommended that the US place curbs on investments by Chinese entertainment, media and internet companies in response to censorship and restrictions that Western media and internet companies face in China. Whether these concerns are valid is irrelevant—perception is driving policy in this post-truth era.

Eight ways companies in Asia can win in the West

So, what does this mean for us as communicators? How should we communicate this story of Asian innovation in an increasingly isolationist world? Here are eight ways how Asian companies can win in the West:

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of values to stakeholder analysis—the US election shows that we know less about one another than we think.
  2. Analyse the implications of greater protectionist policies on your company’s work force, your country’s trading partners and the regulations by which you currently operate. Start preparing your position on this now across key Western markets, most notably the US and the UK.
  3. Seek partnerships with NGOs and government to identify opportunities for shared value. Partners can be your most valuable allies.
  4. Continue to embrace diversity and expand inclusion. This is not only good business, it’s smart business.
  5. Communicate the benefits of your products to local communities. Focus on what they mean for people and their families, rather than how they’re better than your competitor’s offer.
  6. Use your power to convene. A story on your role in nurturing the innovation ecosystem is as important as the product innovations that result.
  7. Use your power to convene for a higher purpose that establishes your brand best in the new world order. Look for opportunities to connect and lead tri-sector Your role in nurturing the innovation ecosystem, for example, is as important as the product innovations that result.
  8. Continuously tell and retell your story in a fresh light, as well-equipped for the future, leveraging and leading change to maximum advantage.

The Asian Century is still in development, and its promise threatens to be curtailed by isolationism and protectionism. As communicators, we have an opportunity to positively shape this era by connecting people, ideas, and points of view across East and West. The times are certainly a-changin’, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they’re changing for the greater good.

Rachel Catanach is FleishmanHillard’s senior partner and president, Greater China and a member of the firm’s Cabinet leadership team. In addition to her senior management responsibilities, her market role includes people development, cultivating existing client relationships and securing new business through cross-market collaboration. Rachel has advised senior clients across the government, financial, technology, luxury and manufacturing sectors. She has particular expertise in global brand building, and corporate and financial communications, and has consulted on high-profile merger and acquisition activities, private equity deals, sensitive issues management, initial public offerings, and strategic events. A former Chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong, Rachel is a strong advocate for the PR industry in Asia and a regular commentator on the communications challenges faced by Asian companies going global.


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FleishmanHillard Appoints New Talent Development Lead in Asia Pacific

Local-leadership model key to strong 2016 results

 HONG KONG, February 16, 2017FleishmanHillard (FH) today announced the appointment of Yu Li, senior vice president and partner, to regional Talent Development lead for the Asia Pacific region.

“Yu Li epitomizes the collaborative and collegial culture of FleishmanHillard and understands that people are the center of our business and our culture,” said Lynne Anne Davis, FleishmanHillard senior partner, Asia Pacific president. “She is respected for her integrity, hard work and good humor. As a leader, Yu Li not only reinforces our values and our collaborative style, she has a real gift for bringing out the best in our people.”

Yu Li, Talent Development lead for the Asia Pacific region of FleishmanHillard

Yu Li previously served as FleishmanHillard’s head of Talent Development for Greater China, and spent eight months of her 12-year tenure at the firm working in its global headquarters in the United States. She will begin transitioning to her new role immediately. Before joining FleishmanHillard in 2005, Yu Li worked for three years at a leading logistic company in Beijing, and started her career at JPMorgan Chase in Paris.

In her new role, Yu Li will be tasked with continuing to build FH’s talent in the region, which boasts a low turnover, strong tenure and longstanding gender equity from senior-most management to junior staff. She will also lead the region’s performance management; leadership development; and recognition, retention and rewards programs.

Yu Li replaces Sally Woo, who is emigrating to Canada after nearly five years with the firm. “Sally did a tremendous job in one of the most highly valued roles on our leadership team. We are sincerely grateful for her many contributions, including mentoring Yu Li to take on this role,” said Davis.

“FleishmanHillard’s Asia Pacific region celebrated another year of record performance in 2016, largely thanks to the strength and passion of our talent,” Davis added. “Our local-leadership model, with all but one of our 17 offices being led by a native of the market, continues to be one of our most distinctive competitive advantages in our region.”

Yu Li will continue to bolster FH’s local-leadership model, which has underpinned the agency’s success in the region. Employees reflect 16 nationalities, speak 13 different languages and 93 percent are from the region.





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FleishmanHillard adds bench strength in Shanghai

SHANGHAI, 13 September, 2016 — FleishmanHillard has boosted its bench strength in Shanghai appointing Suki Zhao, who joins as vice president and will head up FleishmanHillard’s Brand/Lifestyle team in Shanghai with responsibility for managing communications in China for some of FleishmanHillard’s largest global clients.

With over 10 years’ international agency experience, Suki Zhao brings significant brand and consumer communications expertise to the agency.  Most recently at Hill & Knowlton Strategies, Zhao’s client portfolio has included multi-national clients in diverse sectors such as travel destination, premium lifestyle, sports entertainment, fashion and luxury, as well as financial services.

“Suki is a dynamic communications professional who understands the power of creativity and brings a fresh perspective to every client challenge,” said Li Hong, FleishmanHillard chairman of China. “Her deep understanding of the Chinese consumer, excellent network and strong skillset will enable us to further capitalize on growing opportunities in Shanghai. We are excited to welcome her to the team.”

Zhao has developed and implemented successful branding campaigns and large-scale events for clients such as Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Costa Cruises, InterContinental Hotels Group, Burberry, ENZO, Singapore Media Festival, IMG, WWE, Oakley, several 2010 Shanghai World Expo pavilions, Brand South Africa, JP Morgan and HSBC.

In other news, Miranda Cai, FleishmanHillard Shanghai’s general manager, is leaving to pursue other opportunities.  She joined the agency in January 2012 and under her leadership the office has achieved significant growth. “Miranda has been a great asset supporting our continued development in Shanghai through her mentorship of talent and support of our diverse practice groups. We are deeply grateful for her valuable contributions,” added Li Hong.

Lichi Hsueh, FleishmanHillard’s managing director client service in China, will assume responsibility for heading the Shanghai office, supported by FleishmanHillard Shanghai’s Deputy General Manager Yisi Liu.

A well-rounded counselor, Hsueh brings more than 18 years of leadership, client and business expansion experience in Greater China’s PR industry.  Through her work with leading brands in the technology and financial services sectors, she has deep expertise in managing sensitive issues, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate affairs.

“Lichi’s considerable understanding of the China market, and her ability to drive business growth through a keen focus on client service quality, will ensure we are well-placed to capitalize on new opportunities in China,” said Li Hong.

Hsueh will be ably supported in this role by Deputy General Manager Yisi Liu, who also heads FleishmanHillard’s Corporate and Public Affairs team in Shanghai.

Liu joined FleishmanHillard Shanghai in 2012 and has significant expertise in stakeholder identification and engagement, government policy analysis, corporate reputation management, and issues and crisis management.  In addition to his extensive corporate affairs experience working with brands in the tourism, healthcare, agriculture, B2B and finance sectors, Liu spent five years at government agency China National Tourism Administration. “With his expansive understanding of China’s corporate landscape, Yisi is a highly sought-after counselor on the best approach to navigating the complexities and changing dynamics of China’s business landscape,” said Li Hong.

“Lichi and Yisi, together with Suki, represent a dynamic team and under their leadership FleishmanHillard Shanghai is well-positioned for our next chapter of growth, with a strong portfolio of clients and a deep talent pool,” said Rachel Catanach, president and senior partner, Greater China. “We’re excited by the opportunities in the marketplace, and look forward to scaling new heights with this highly energised team.”

(From left to right) Ms. Lichi Hsueh, Mr. Yisi Liu and Ms. Suki Zhao

(From left to right) Ms. Lichi Hsueh, Mr. Yisi Liu and Ms. Suki Zhao

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A Truth Well Told: PR Professionals Should Keep the Art of Writing Alive

Content marketing specialists seem to be the new “job du jour”. Every creative and communication firm wants one and those that have them claim that their person can create gold from straw.

For PR professionals, now is the time to reclaim what used to be our bread and butter – our ability to create engaging content. We need to reassert ourselves as story tellers.

While a good picture does tell 1000 words (still) and moving pictures (video or movies) are even better (witness the dominance of video in the winning Cannes campaigns), as an industry working in a multi-channel age, we should not lose sight of our role as lead scribes nor of the power of the written word.

We need to continue to train people to write well in whatever language is their mother tongue. In fact, now it’s even more important for PR professionals to be excellent writers – able to provide critical analysis of other’s work, synthesise, make sense of the complex, persuade through our ability to build emotional bonds and articulate rational arguments. Scripted storytelling is the progenitor of all multi-channel content development. This will be where our future value lies as people try to reduce the complexity and increasing anxiety from information overload.

And it’s a space that others will find hard to claim unless we surrender this skill to them. Here are three story-telling tips PR professionals should remember to keep on top of their game.

  • The universal truths of story-telling remain: Stories have characters – both heroes and villains – an inciting moment, and are written in language that is real and evocative.
  • Great story-telling is a craft: It takes practice and structure is important. Great stories are organized around core themes and have milestones along the way to give readers a sense of the journey.
  • A story’s power lies in the retelling: In this multi-channel age, the way we recast and retell the same story for different audiences and channels has become all important. PR professionals need to develop that visual eye and recognize we live in an And/And world. Those who can successfully marry words and pictures will find themselves in high demand.

I would like to finish by quoting a short story reportedly written by Ernest Hemingway as a bet that he couldn’t write a story in six words or less. Hemingway was an acknowledged master of the short form and would have been very comfortable in today’s world, writing in 140 characters or less.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

It’s poignant and leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination. The sparse language underscores the power of a few well-chosen words. It’s a reminder of the need to keep this craft alive and ensure it remains central to the requisite skills of every PR professional.

Rachel Catanach

Senior Partner, Senior Vice President, Managing Director at FleishmanHillard Hong Kong

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Brands need to convince Chinese consumers on the value of online shopping New findings from FleishmanHillard’s 2014 ‘Authenticity Gap’

Beijing, August 4—FleishmanHillard today unveiled the 2014 results of its global Authenticity Gap studies in China, which explore the gap between what consumers experience when engaging with companies and what they expect of them.

Interestingly views that though online shopping is a fast growth area in China, Chinese consumers feel that online shopping brands are not providing the value they expect.


“This research highlights the need for companies expanding their online presence in China to do more to reassure consumers of the benefits of online shopping. Consumers want to know they will get the same quality service online as in the store, particularly with regards to imitations, payment security and the potential for the same product to cost less overseas,” commented Rachel Catanach FleishmanHillard’s Asia Head for Reputation Management and Managing Director Hong Kong.

The agency developed the insights to help companies understand the behaviors consumers most associate with authentic companies – and where organizations should make changes to improve their reputation.

 For the second year the research was undertaken in China, the world’s fastest growing consumer market, covering 150 brands across 20 different categories of products and services, including some of the biggest brands alongside leading internationals such as Sony, Microsoft, L’Oreal, Philips, Nissan, HSBC, McDonalds and Exxon.

“No firm is doing more than FleishmanHillard to help organizations understand how brand and reputation intersect and to deliver actionable data and insights. In Asia, the Authenticity Gap provides particularly useful insights for companies looking to expand into China and Indonesia,” remarked Rachel.

Xu Dana, SVP & Head of Corporate and Public Affairs, FleishmanHillard Beijing: “This kind of research enables us to better understand consumers. It allows us to develop an approach, based on real evidence of what consumers want and don’t want. In China’s fast-growing consumer base, knowing what problems to address and how to address them gives companies an advantage in the race to capture this growth market and build a brand, product, or business that will last and prosper.”

China highlights

  • Demand for value-added: Failure to deliver value is a common sentiment amongst consumers with 70% of sectors falling below expectations on providing products and services that offer value.
  • Insatiable appetite for innovation: Majority expecting more innovation. The majority of sectors were failing to deliver innovative new products and services; even sectors like tablets and e-readers fell short.

Global highlights

  • 700 brands covered in total in Canada, China, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States of America.
  • Consumers Care About More Than Products and Services: Less than half (48 percent) of what shapes our perceptions and beliefs about an organization are tied to its products and services. The rest (52 percent) comes from attributes related to management behavior and how a company interacts with society.
  • Innovation Is Personalization: Not surprisingly, there is an insatiable appetite for innovation. Even more interesting is that consumers aren’t solely interested in more technological advances. They want and expect more in terms of fresh thinking around personalization of products and services.
  • No such thing as a global brand: Across continents and even countries, the expectations and experience in the same industry vary widely. Executing against local expectation is crucial to an authentic relationship with local stakeholders.

About “Authenticity Gap” study

The research was done in partnership with UK-based research firm Lepere Analytics and uses Lepere’s patent-pending methodology for polling “expert consumers.” Flipping the traditional recruitment methodology, Lepere identifies expert consumers who have a high level of interest, knowledge, engagement and influence in the specific industries they were questioned about in the survey. This validated approach provides much richer insights than simple man-on-the-street polling done in other surveys. Lepere Analytics was founded in 2007. The methodology is is independently validated and is used by Wall Street investment analysts and portfolio managers. Polling is conducted for Lepere Analytics by Ipsos – the world’s third largest research company with operations in 84 countries. Online panels are in compliance with International quality standards ESOMAR and AIMRI and certified on key ISO standards.

Visit for further information on FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap Study, the Executive Summary of the global results and access to the country-specific reports.

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FleishmanHillard Named ‘Asia-Pacific Network of the Year’ at 2014 PRWeek Awards Asia

FleishmanHillard was named the 2014 Asia-Pacific Network of the Year at the PRWeek Asia Awards. Hosted by Haymarket Group’s leading industry publication PRWeek, the event honors communicators, agencies and work in Asia Pacific that advances the industry.

This marks the third time FleishmanHillard has been named the Asia Pacific Network of the Year since it was established 13 years ago. The honor builds on the agency’s recent recognition as PRWeek’s inaugural Global Agency of the Year.


“It’s a thrill to receive such prestigious recognition of our highly collaborative nature, innovative spirit and robust growth across the region,” said Lynne Anne Davis, FleishmanHillard president of Asia Pacific. “This past year has been big in many ways, including the launch of our refreshed brand signaling our evolution as a fully integrated agency. It’s especially meaningful on our 20th anniversary in this region, the fastest growing geography in our company. With 19 owned offices in 10 countries, we are proud to be a network in the truest sense, bound by shared values and clients, where the majority of top accounts are served by several of our APAC offices.”

In selecting FleishmanHillard, PRWeek noted: “2013 was a milestone year for the network with the launch of its refreshed brand proposition: The Power of True. True speaks to the agency’s unique ability to go beyond the traditional definition of public relations to deliver the power of integrated communications solutions. The commitment to deliver on this vision has seen the network grow 16% organically year on year (in Asia).”

In addition, FleishmanHillard’s specialty brand BlueCurrent Group won the Employee Communications Campaign of the Year for its work with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. (a Johnson & Johnson company). And FleishmanHillard’s work with client Pivotal received a certificate of excellence in the Business-to-Business Campaign of the Year category.

“Our team gives credit for this honor to our clients because our success would not be possible without their generous trust and appreciation,” added Davis. “We also want to thank everyone across the FleishmanHillard network worldwide for championing their Asia Pacific colleagues every day and making our agency such a rewarding place to work.”

About FleishmanHillard

FleishmanHillard is the world’s most complete global communications firm, specializing in public relations, public affairs, marketing, paid media, and transmedia and social content. FleishmanHillard delivers on The Power of True, reflecting the firm’s high values, and unique ability to guide clients through a world demanding unprecedented authenticity and transparency. FleishmanHillard was named PRWeek’s 2014 Global Agency of the Year, “Standout Agency” on Advertising Age’s 2013 A-List; NAFE’s “Top 50 Companies for Executive Women” for 2010-2014; and among PRWeek’s 2013 “Best Places to Work.” The firm’s award-winning work is widely heralded, including at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. FleishmanHillard is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc., and has more than 85 offices in 30 countries, plus affiliates in 42 countries. Visit us at

About The DAS Group of Companies

The DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (, is a global group of marketing services companies. DAS includes over 200 companies in the following marketing disciplines: specialty, PR, healthcare, CRM, events, promotional marketing, branding and research. Operating through a combination of networks and regional organizations, DAS serves international, regional, national and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.

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Carrera y Carrera Engages FleishmanHillard as PR Agency in China

Spanish jewellery firm Carrera y Carrera has signed an agreement effective May with the prestigious public relations and communications agency, FleishmanHillard.  With offices all over the world and a subsidiary in Beijing, FleishmanHillard will be charged with implementing the ambitious PR and communications plan for Carrera y Carrera in China.

FleishmanHillard recently named PRWeek’s inaugural Global Agency of the Year. Among the numerous awards the agency has received, two current highlights include 7 nominations for the Silver Anvil Awards which recognize “organizations that have successfully addressed a contemporary public relations issue with exemplary professional skill, creativity and resourcefulness”, and “exemplary status” certification from the Josephson Institute, the first such recognition the Institute has granted to a communications agency. It’s operation in China has won two awards at the 11th China Golden Awards for Excellence in Public Relations by CIPRA (Chinese International Public Relations Association), with Gold Award in Corporate Branding Communication Category and Silver Award in NGO Public Relations Category.

About Carrera y Carrera

Carrera y Carrera is a Spanish jewellery firm that is considered one of the most prestigious in the world. Carrera y Carrera is a Spanish jewellery firm that is considered one of the most prestigious in the world.  The brand´s headquarters are located in Madrid, as is its workshop – home to nearly 35 jewellers and considered one of the best in the world. Present in over 40 countries, the Company has subsidiaries in the United States, Japan, and Russia. Present in over 40 countries, the Company has subsidiaries in the United States, Japan, and Russia, and boutiques in Madrid, Barcelona, Tokyo, Moscow, Dubai, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, among others.

This iconic brand is characterized by a unique style and precise designs where the combination of a matte-shine effect on gold, work in volumes, and meticulous craftsmanship make for exceptional jewellery pieces where gold and precious stones come to life.

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FleishmanHillard Promotes Jerry Zou to General Manager of Beijing Office

BEIJING, Jan. 24, 2014 – FleishmanHillard announced today the appointment of Jerry Zou to head its Beijing office as general manager.

Reporting to Li Hong, president of FleishmanHillard’s Mainland China network, Zou assumes responsibility for the further expansion of the firm’s operations, services and product offerings in Beijing. As general manager, he will focus on deepening current strengths in sectors with high potential, such as automotive, retail and luxury goods, as well as leveraging FleishmanHillard’s global resources in integrated marketing, digital communications and data analytics, among others.

Zou had been working as a senior vice president and partner at FleishmanHillard’s Beijing office, overseeing the firm’s China technology and branding practices. In this role, he oversaw service for several of the firm’s major clients in China. He has more than 13 years of experience in marketing communications and public relations, providing strategic counsel to clients and spearheading new business growth strategies in the market. He joined FleishmanHillard in 2008 and has been instrumental in the agency’s rapid growth over the past five years.

“China continues to be a driving force in our regional growth strategy,” said Lynne Anne Davis, FleishmanHillard president of Asia Pacific. “In 2013, Greater China emerged as the single biggest revenue generator in our 19-office Asia Pacific network and a shining example of the evolution of our business to meet an increasingly integrated world. In Beijing, Jerry has been leading the largest division of our largest office in APAC with flying colors. He plays a starring role in a success story that demonstrates how this dynamic market rewards experience, entrepreneurism, innovation, a culture of excellence, and a diehard commitment to client service. China President Li Hong has cultivated Jerry’s natural leadership qualities and prepared him to take this exciting next step in his career. There is no doubt he will be a magnificent general manager who will help take us to even greater heights.”

“I’m particularly happy to see Jerry’s promotion,” said Li Hong. “Our growth over the past five years would not have been possible with his spirit of collaboration, teamwork and creativity. Jerry consistently demonstrates best-practice account management skills and the agency credo that quality service is first and foremost in everything we do. He is very well-respected by the clients he serves and the teams he leads. Few people have his kind of drive and passion for his work and the people he works with. He is an inspiration, especially when it comes to making meaningful impact for our clients. I look forward to seeing how the Beijing office grows and thrives under Jerry’s management, and we will be cheering him on every step of the way.”

Before joining FleishmanHillard, Zou obtained eight years of professional experience in Hill & Knowlton and other global PR agencies. He holds a bachelor’s degree of market and business from Shanghai Tongji University, China. He is also a member of the China International Public Relations Association.

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M&A Panel, Co-Hosted by New Fortune and FleishmanHillard

On July 18, 2013, New FortuneMagazine of , Shenzhen Securities Information Co., Ltd. (SSIC), and FleishmanHillard co-hosted the New Fortune Capital Market Forum in Shenzhen China on 18th of July, with the theme of “The Rise of China in Global M&A Arena”.

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