Why China matters
Irecently read an article about China’s impact on the global economy where the writer summed up its influence in the headline, “When China sneezes, the world catches a cold.” What was once considered a poor developing country has become a global commercial force.
This year the world’s second largest economy made more headlines in its unprecedented move of opening its publishing doors to world, bringing, for the first time in history, over 8,500 newspapers and magazines to both Chinese and non-Chinese speaking people around the globe.
Through a partnership with the China International Book Trading Corporation (CIBTC), a subsidiary of the China International Publishing Group (CIPG), PressReader is adding the country’s leading newspapers and magazines to the 5,000+ titles already available on PressReader.com and its iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry mobile apps.
What took so long?
As most people know, there is quite a bit of sensitivity in China around anything that involves publishers, press and the distribution of media, whether that be domestic or international. So it’s not surprising that it took close to three years for PressReader to negotiate and secure this historical deal.
Thankfully, the current Chinese government was committed to its new mission to make Chinese media more open to the world and it saw unique opportunities to reach new readers in nontraditional markets through
PressReader’s vertical business network.
So although everything had to be vetted by multiple agencies, departments and ministries before final approvals were in place, the vision came to fruition on April 15, 2016.
So who cares about China’s newspapers and magazines going global?
Chinese expatriates care
In 2014, 1.39 billion people could speak and write in Chinese and more than 50 million of them live and work outside of China. These expats’ appetite for Chinese news is high, not only because they want to remain culturally in touch with what is happening in their homeland, but to also compare what’s being said about global issues from China and other countries – something they were not able to do before.
Chinese travelers care
China outbound tourism has been growing for years, but that growth is expected to pick up the pace even more from 2015’s 120 million journeys, as a result of economic prosperity, more liberal travel and visa policies and the operation of more international flights entering and exiting the country.
Chinese students care
Since 1978, four million Chinese have left to study abroad and the trend isn’t showing any signs of changing.
Out of the 500,000+ students abroad during the 2014/15 academic year, more than half were studying in the United States (up 10.8% from the previous year). Chinese students now make up 31.2% of international students studying in the US, with China being the number one place of origin for students coming to the states for the sixth year in a row. These young, naïve students struggle with integrating themselves into the North American culture and there is little local support to help them assimilate into campus life. Having access to publications from where they grew up and where most of their family lives, goes a long way in helping to ward off homesickness, especially in their first semesters.
Many foreign students find themselves working at Fortune 100 companies (e.g. Microsoft, Amazon, Google) between semesters – students that these companies have invested in for years and expect to hire upon graduation.
But as more Chinese students choose to grow their careers in the US, businesses have had to jump through costly hoops to employ them because of foreign hiring limits. To circumvent this problem, Microsoft recently opened a development center in Vancouver, Canada where it received an exemption from requiring the mandatory Labor Market Impact Assessment to justify hiring a non-Canadian.
Creating an inclusive and
familiar environment for students goes a long way in making them want to learn, live and work here; offering ease of access to thousands of previously unobtainable hometown newspapers and magazines helps prospect employers sweeten the pot.
If there is one thing every business in this shrinking, global world has in common, it’s the need to differentiate themselves with customers. In the hotel, cruise and airline industries, loyalty programs have been used to reward members with exclusives perks (e.g. free Wi-Fi, faster check-in, private lounges and other in-room/on-board amenities).
However, as one might expect, as time passes and more chains mimic their competition, these perks become conditioned expectations, driving marketers to look for other opportunities to surprise and delight consumers, who are always asking, “What have you done for me lately?”
One of the latest ways businesses are creating unique value for people is by providing them with complimentary access to thousands of digital magazines and newspapers. In just the past three years, this simple, but powerfullyeffective amenity has been enhancing customer experience for over 300 million consumers at thousands major brands such as Qantas Airways, Uber, New York Public Library, MSC Cruises and
Accor Hotels. Until today, the lack of Chinese-language titles on the PressReader platform limited the value proposition to tens of millions of Chinese travelers, expats and students. But, no more…
With China’s mission to take its content to the four corners of the global, the number of consumer-centric companies looking to leapfrog their competitors and attract, engage with, and create more value for this underserved audience is growing faster than one can say, “机不可
失，时不再来” [Opportunity knocks at the door only once].
Why should publishers care?
China’s decision to open up its content to the world may, on the surface, seem irrelevant to non-Chinese publishers, but that would be as short-sighted as navigating around the tip of an iceberg and ignoring what lies beneath.
China has given all publishers a gift by fueling a rapid expansion of the PressReader business network with new verticals looking to capitalize on a massive new audience. They’ve handed media execs and their advertisers a huge opportunity to grow reach and revenues in businesses that already serve the millions of readers who travel and live outside the publishers’ home countries.
But not only that…
While publishers may not have been able to speak to a Chinese audience through their publications in the past, PressReader’s ability to instantly translate their content into both traditional and simplified Chinese breaks down those language barriers, allowing journalists, editors and native advertisers to engage with a previouslyinaccessible demographic – an educated and often affluent audience that is hungry for new perspectives on global issues and world events – perspective they could never get through traditional Chinese media.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Today the distribution of content has never been easier and yet many publishers still struggle to let go of the reins and exploit the power of networks and platforms that already exist to serve them.
Preferring to control circulation channels, and how, when and where readers consume content, publishers spend unnecessary dollars they could be investing in quality journalism and settle for the tip of the revenue iceberg – a fraction of what actually exists.
Jeff Bezos once said, “There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery.” It’s time for publishers to reinvest in quality content creation and take a peek below the waters of China’s serendipitous move into mainstream media to discover the true art of the possible that lies beneath the surface.