With the strategic partnership, Ruder Finn will have access to S&W's knowledge, insights and resources in 21 cities throughout western China.
Local agency S&W Public Relations is especially active in Chongqing City and the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan.
It was founded in 1999 with clients concentrated in 13 diverse industries including public affairs, culture, tourism, real estate, IT, luxury, media, entertainment and FMCG.
While competing large PR firms have long-established operations in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, they are still unable to command the prices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou due to client and consumer mindsets, said Elan Shou, managing director and senior vice-president of Ruder Finn China.
'Instead of opening a new branch in Sichuan, we decided to initiate this partnership for the reason of network building, as S&W is the biggest and one of the most experienced agencies within western China,' Shou told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
Both agencies will combine their specialised expertise for the benefit of clients of both parties, as well as share referrals, profits and internal business modules with each other.
Ruder Finn and S&W first worked together in 2001 when Glenfiddich, a client of Ruder Finn, extended its projects into Sichuan. The Scotch whisky brand was interested to reach out to a small circle of local key opinion leaders via word of mouth. S&W's extensive local network and met these needs, with a team led by Ruder Finn.
The most recent collaboration between Ruder Finn and S&W was Roche's entry into the western region when the Switzerland-based company opened its regional headquarters in December 2012, as it targets China's inland cities to boost sales.
China's central and western provinces have become one of the fastest-growing areas since the implementation of the government's 'China Go West' strategy in 2000. The region has made great strides by attracting investment from multinationals such as IBM, SAP and Siemens.
This article was originally published on Campaign Asia