Chinese public relations policies leave much to be desired: Communication expert

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Columbia, Apr 28 (ANI): The public relations policies of China leave much to be desired, said Ernest Zhang, the China program coordinator at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and an expert in international communications.

According to a study authored by him, the PR policies adopted by China's Health Minister Zhang Wenkang during the SARS outbreak were of a poor standard, if not unworkable.

"In China, as with many countries that were previously pure Communist societies, there was no PR, just propaganda," Zhang said.

"Propaganda doesn't work sometimes. PR is much more effective, but it has taken the Chinese Government a long time to realize this. The SARS crisis was a learning process for the government," he adds.

In his study, Zhang applies William Benoit's comprehensive theory of image restoration to analyze Minister Zhang's public relations methods.

This theory involves five strategies: denial, evading responsibility, reduction of offensiveness, corrective action, and mortification.

When applying this theory to Minister Zhang's strategies, Zhang found the attempt of image repair to an abject failure.

"Minister Zhang's arguments were based on lies or inaccurate information. Public opinion surveys indicated Minister Zhang's discourse actually hurt the Chinese government's image, rather than helping it," Zhang observes.

Zhang believes that Wenkang's public relations failure was the primary reason for the Chinese Government removing him.

"The Chinese Government is doing much better now, but they need to do more. There are still some cases and issues where they are still falling short," Zhang said. (ANI)

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