From GSK, Qualcomm, VW/Audi, Chrysler and Microsoft to McDonald’s, Yum Brands/KFC and most recently Walmart, it has been a long, hot summer for foreign companies in China as they fall foul of Beijing’s renewed clampdown on food safety and anti-monopolistic activity.
Same same you might say, a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders seemingly given weight by CIC/Ogilvy PR’s latest Crisis Management in the Social Era report which finds that most significant crises in China in 2013 involved foreign companies, including nine of the top 10, as measured by the volume of Weibo posts.
Yet hark back to 2012 and the majority of crises in the Middle Kingdom involved domestic entities, evidence perhaps that the current clampdown is deliberately targeting foreign firms, despite denials from Beijing.
The report also contains interesting data on the effectiveness of different crisis responses on short-term purchase decision-making. The findings will not be unfamiliar to crisis communications professionals:
- Least damaging: acknowledge the problem and promise to investigate
- Most damaging: outright denial.
Whether the impact of a crisis is best measured by the volume of Weibo posts is open to question; impact on sales or reputation/trust are arguably more useful metrics.
In addition, Weibo is only one of many social media in China, albeit the most influential, at least for now.
Concerns over the methodology notwithstanding, the report is worth a read.
Here it is in full: