Corporate communications in Asia

As a result of the economic boom and political opening of Asian nations, communication management in this region has undergone a process of expansion and professionalization. However, in comparison to other regions, communication activities are more heavily influenced by political and cultural factors.

A research project by Lisa Dühring and Ansgar Zerfaß aims to provide an overview of the status quo of corporate communications and public relations in Asia and explores its political, economic and cultural context. This is essential knowledge for communication managers as Asia is becoming increasingly important not only as a production and sales market, but also companies are increasingly locating their offices in this region.

Key findings

  • Social media strongly influences PR.
  • Expectations regarding corporate responsibility are rising as environmental and working conditions are increasingly being discussed in the mass media.
  • There is a large demand for qualified PR professionals throughout Asia.
  • PR education in Asia is very heterogeneous.

Key topics & trends in Asia

The significant influence of social media & the internet

  • Explosive growth of number of smartphones, however with regional differences.
  • Strong influence of social media on PR.
  • Online communication enjoys a high level of trust.
  • Online forums and blogs are popular alternatives for forming political opinions.
  • Freedom of speech is limited. Critical political websites are often prohibited.
  • Training on social media skills are becoming common.
  • 73% of online communicators work in marketing departments.

The growing importance of CSR

  • CSR is also playing an increasingly important role in Asia although it is often referred to as philanthropy and community development.
  • Expectations regarding corporate responsibility are rising as environmental and working conditions are increasingly being discussed in the mass media. Additionally, the middle class is growing and therefore the desire for CSR measures is also growing. Asia is generally becoming more oriented towards Western standards.

Professionalization in Asia

  • Tendencies towards professionalization in Asia can be observed.
  • In many companies and agencies, however, PR managers still do not have a degree in this field.
  • The demand for qualified PR professionals throughout Asia is high.
  • PR professionals expect a clear career path with defined roles and positions. Otherwise, they will look for another job.
  • There is an urgent need for professional associations and better training programs.

PR Education in Asia

  • PR education in Asia is very heterogeneous.
  • Very few universities have dedicated PR chairs. Instead, PR is often combined with communication sciences, journalism or marketing.
  • Bachelor's programs are widespread, master's programs are less common and doctoral programs are very rare.
  • Practitioners often do not recognize university degrees when hiring new staff.
  • Teaching is mostly based on US texts that do not take cultural specifics of Asia into account.
  • Consistent theoretical knowledge of communication management is scarce. Large gaps between theory and practice exist since there is not enough exchange between the two.

The context of corporate communications in Asia

Historical context

  • Historically, PR in Asia has evolved from government relations, i.e. political communication.
  • Even today, politicians are still the most important stakeholders.

Cultural context

  • Personal relationships and networks are highly relevant.
  • Great respect is expressed to all authorities and elders.
  • It is important to save face in all situations.
  • PR managers are expected to show their appreciation with tips and gifts.

Economic context

  • PR in Asia is driven in particular by multinational companies that want to sell their products through marketing, advertising, events and media relations. The focus is still strongly on customers.


A literature analysis was conducted between December 2014 and March 2015, mainly analyzing national studies to gain insights into PR practices in Asia.

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