Spotlight: Hong Kong

Evan Lewis, former VP of PR, events, and corporate comms, DFS Group, details why brands need the right social voice to cut through the noise in the city.

What makes Hong Kong great?
It is a city built on trade between East and West and a natural hub for global commerce.

Hong Kong has a strong business environment, a hard-working culture, and the energy and vibrancy is palpable from the bustle of the day to the brilliance of the night.

How has the PR industry changed in the city?
The advent of digital communications has impacted the industry. Print and television media have remained influential perhaps longer than other cities or countries, but this is changing. 

Digital communications increases the means by which people find information, as well as the means of distribution, which helps to create a more competitive landscape.

Hong Kong is also extremely mobile friendly, so there’s a real challenge for brands to discover the right means to own their presence on mobile channels. People in Hong Kong love shopping on the ground, and enjoy the experience of great retail and convenience.

What are the unique characteristics of a Hong Kong consumer that communications pros operating in the city should be aware of?
An interesting aspect is the dynamic nature of the language. This doesn’t affect brands very much, but when speaking to Hong Kong consumers through social media, a brand needs to be a little bit more human and tailor its language accordingly.

However, the changing nature of Cantonese, even between generations, means it is harder for brands to find the right voice, be modern, and in tune with their audiences. I suspect it is harder to strike the right tone in Cantonese than it is in English.

How has the social media landscape changed in recent years and how do you envision it changing in the future?
The real change is the increase in mobility and the variety of devices by which customers access information.

The actual device is becoming less important, but the location of the user and the content that they are viewing is becoming more so. That means people are accessing content everywhere in different formats. Information is now becoming pervasive.

There used to be the statistic that the average person sees about 80 forms of advertising a day. I cannot imagine what that number is now. This means brands need to really think about the sort of information and content that is relevant and interesting to break through the clutter.

It is not about mass awareness; it’s about the right information at the correct time to the right person.

This also means that companies need to make greater investments in talent to manage all this.

Is it easy to find PR talent in Hong Kong?
It is impossible and the task is only getting harder. Academia is geared toward fueling demand and much of this is soaked up by agencies. Finding candidates with the right mix of experience, especially in-house experience, is becoming increasingly challenging.

Companies such as DFS Group are investing in developing talent through a new management trainee program that will bring the first candidate graduate back into PR after 18 months of industry experience.

What industries are currently experiencing the most growth?
Travel and tourism are greatly increasing. People are open to traveling to different places.

The ways in which people travel and the places they are going to are constantly changing. That is why DFS Group is also evolving to meet the luxury retail needs of the modern traveler.

What do you love most about Hong Kong?
The fact that one minute you can be at the center of a dynamic, global city and the next; enjoying the stunning, natural scenery of mountains, beaches, and more.

Check In

Hong Kong PR Professionals Association
P.O. Box 20097, Hennessy Road Post Office, HK
Tel: (+845) 8112 0028

Hong Kong Chamber of General Commerce
22/F United Centre, 95 Queensway, Hong Kong

South China Morning Post
1 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

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