Hong Kong continues to serve as an important media hub for Asia.

With this in mind, Alessandra Tinio, an account director in our Hong Kong office, summarized a panel she attended that featured three tech journalists:

  • Lulu Yilun Chen: Senior reporter with Bloomberg in Hong Kong, covering technology. A regular commentator on Bloomberg TV and BBC, she is a three-time co-winner of the SOPA awards.
  • Sijia Jiang: Responsible for Reuters’s day-to-day coverage of some of the largest China tech companies, including Tencent Holdings and Huawei Technologies.
  • Luisa Tam: Senior editor with SCMP and a journalist for more than 30 years, including working as a producer for NDR German TV, a media campaigner with Greenpeace, and as the deputy managing editor of Eastern Express.

While Bloomberg and Reuters are household names, you might not be familiar with the South China Morning Post. When Jack Ma and Alibaba plucked down $266M at the end of 2015 for the SCMP, the vision for the media property expanded the playing field from Hong Kong to rest of the world.

Ma saw an opportunity for the SCMP to serve as an international source for all things China. He reasoned that the world’s interest in China was surely going to increase over time. Yet, the only ongoing information on China available to Westerners came from publications based in the West that inevitably looked at China through a Western lens.

Observing from afar, I’d say that SCMP has made modest progress in achieving the global profile it desires. Still, it wields considerable clout in Hong Kong and across Greater China.

Alessandra’s CliffsNotes on the three journalists follow.

Lulu Chen, Bloomberg

  • People/journalists have increasingly short attention span — how can a story be conveyed in one sentence? If you can’t do a short snappy human language sentence, it gets liked and won’t get picked up by journalists.
  • For our readers, if we lose them at the headline — they’re gone.
  • Get your talking points ready.
  • Don’t overwhelm people.
  • Make them realize what you do.
  • Hook it to a trend piece — whatever is trending at the moment, or find something catchy.
  • Create something that is your brand — be unusual, quirky and one of a kind.
  • Usual criteria that gets you coverage: Who’s invested in this company? How much have you raised? Who are their investors? That is what our editors ask us, so help us answer those questions.
  • Be specific — don’t use abstract words that don’t mean anything to people!

As a bonus, Lulu shared examples of headlines that generate attention (and clicks) for Bloomberg:

Note: The story on teaching code to preschoolers worked on me. I clicked.

Sijia Jiang, Reuters

  • Know your audience who is influencing the media outlets — sometimes it could be a Reuters, Bloomberg or a trade title.
  • Be selective when you’re approaching media.
  • Usual criteria that gets you coverage: raising significant amounts of money.
  • But before you get to that stage, help the journalist understand why your product/service is significant as compared to the bigger companies.
  • Make sure to highlight what problem you’re trying to solve, and its significance.
  • Make it clear what exactly you’re selling.
  • Her thoughts on gender equality in China — China tech has been in the news as having more gender equality than their American counterparts (tech bro culture). At the same time it may not necessarily be because of China is more advanced in terms of the gender environment. Compared to investors, there’s less awareness in terms of sexism, racism and political awareness. In China we see a lot of female entrepreneurs mostly because China is a newer market, so people have no boundaries and thus have freer spirits.

Luisa Tam, SCMP:

  • Don’t hard sell.
  • Don’t just come to us for coverage — make friends over drinks, coffee, etc. Journos can do you a favor and help you if you build relationships.
  • Don’t make a pitch sound like a pitch!
  • Go with strong intro and grab their attention with the first 10 words. Create suspense with something quirky and different to trigger curiosity.
  • Keep in mind that aside from the tech pages, the wider audience is the non-tech sector. Therefore you need to “un-tech” it — put a face and personality to your story and make it interesting. Go outside of the tech story; have the human interest angle.

A Few Closing Thoughts

Like in the U.S., effective media pitches in Hong Kong get to the point, ideally with some semblance of drama. Humanizing the story works. I particularly liked how Luisa from the SCMP put it, “un-tech it.”

With that said, I got the vibe that HK journalists value building relationships with PR. Luisa went as far as to suggest informal catch-ups. Tech journalists in the U.S. rarely take this stance.

What struck me as an overarching theme and where tech PR in general — not just in Hong Kong — often falls short lies in providing context.

Don’t claim you’ve solved the biggest problem since Velcro. Frame the context so the journalist can come to this conclusion on her/his own.

Just do it quickly!