Association to boost healthy growth of PR sector
China's public relations (PR) industry has grown robustly in recent years and its industrial association is vowing to ensure its healthy and sustainable growth.
Zheng Yannong, secretary-general and executive vice-president of the China International Public Relations Association (CIPRA), told China Daily that, to maintain sound progress, the association was focusing on market standardization, professional training, as well as industrial guidance and co-ordination.
Following the first foreign-funded PR company to launch a branch in China in 1984 - US-based Hill & Knowlton -China's PR industry gathered pace, with the establishment of a number of domestic competitors.
Statistics from CIPRA show the total number of PR firms across the Chinese mainland exceeded 1,500, with the total number of PR practitioners totalling more than 15,000 by the end of last year.
The combined revenue of the mainland's PR industry amounted to 3.3 billion yuan (US$397 million) in 2003, an increase of over 800 million yuan (US$96.39 million) over the 2.5 billion yuan (US$301 million) in 2002.
"China's PR industry will maintain speedy yet steady growth in 2004, and the annual growth rate of this year is estimated to be 30 per cent," said Zheng.
However, Zheng acknowledged that, as the PR industry in China is only two decades old, compared to 100 years in developed nations, no complete regulatory and supervisory system has been set up.
"We issued Service Guidance of the PR industry in July, which covers working procedure, company management, strategy and marketing, human resources and occupational morality for the PR industry, in a bid to reinforce self-discipline and fill the gap to some extent," said Zheng.
Meanwhile, the association carried out a national survey in 2003 to provide a reference for the government and PR enterprises.
"Another problem hindering the development of China's PR industry is a shortage of talent and a drain of high-level professionals, given PR is an intellectually intensive, knowledge intensive, experience intensive and resource intensive occupation," said Zheng.
After appeals from the association, specific PR departments were set up in some large universities.
The association also conducts training courses and professional lectures.
Zheng also said the association will further strengthen its co-ordination.
"We have yet to successfully consolidate domestic PR resources to provide PR services for bidders for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and Shanghai 2010 World Exposition, as well as the Ministry of Commerce on anti-dumping cases," he said.
Zheng pointed out that PR will play a bigger role in the future of crisis management, trade dispute settlements and the improvement of government relations.