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Do’s and Don’ts During Chinese New Year

December 18, 2019

Chinese New Year (CNY) is quietly approaching. Observed by one fourth of the world’s population, CNY is a celebration of another year of prosperity and a time of gathering. The holiday is typically celebrated for sixteen days from New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival – each day with different activities and taboos, as observers try to avoid bringing any bad luck into the new year.

When preparing for CNY, the most significant holiday for many, brands need to consider the historical and cultural backgrounds of Chinese consumers in order to succeed.

China is a country with more than 5,000 years of history. Its people are very proud of their rich culture and rocketing economic development in recent years. However, in many people’s hearts there is still a deep-seated fear and distrust of western power as a result of the 1840 Opium War and subsequent century-long invasion. Therefore, foreign brands need to be extra sensitive of the culture and history when communicating to Chinese consumers. CNY is a great opportunity for brands to share their messages authentically and appropriately, if they can successfully navigate the cultural and political sensitivities.

These do’s and don’ts will not only help brands celebrate CNY successfully, but are useful pointers year-round. Abiding by these rules will help companies avoid negative media attention and comments from Chinese netizens.


  1. Location: Check the map on your official website – does it have China’s officially recognized territory? If not, change it. Also, check if you are calling any regions, provinces or districts of China a country (e.g., Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or Tibet), or are mentioning them in parallel with countries. Not using proper titles is a huge red flag for Chinese media and consumers.
  2. Messaging: If you want to celebrate CNY, customize a video or a poster with your best wishes. If you are not sure whether every detail is appropriate, keep it simple and just say “Happy Chinese New Year” on your social account.
  3. Colors: To play it safe, always use red as the primary color. For secondary colors, you can use gold, silver, yellow and green. Other colors are not appropriate for the season.
  4. Culture and Traditions: Show respect by admiring traditional Chinese food, clothing, buildings or the traditions for celebrating the festival, such as fireworks or red pockets (money given to younger relations in red envelopes during CNY). Other traditions include travelling across the country to get home and watching the China Central Television (CCTV) show on CNY eve with family.
  5. Chinese Greetings: The Chinese language is very challenging to learn, and Chinese people appreciate people from other parts of the world addressing them in Chinese. A short greeting video from a company’s CEO or spokesperson in Chinese would be well-received.
  6. Tone and Voice: Keep consistent voices on all your social channels. Though there is the Great Firewall, Chinese people are able to visit your Facebook account. You don’t want to celebrate CNY on Sina Weibo in an appropriate tone while using a different voice on Facebook or other channels.


  1. Politics: Never comment on any political incidents related to China – officially or unofficially – and discourage your employees from doing so.
  2. Humor: Be careful when using humor to portray a tradition. Due to cultural differences, Chinese consumers may think you are making fun of their cultural practices. Rule of thumb? Avoid making jokes and appreciate from a distance.
  3. Colors: Never use black or white colors during CNY. Traditionally, these are the colors of funerals.
  4. Social Media Content: Do not post anything that may cause sadness or other negative emotions on your Chinese social accounts during CNY. During CNY, the whole country is reuniting with family and friends – any negative voices are seen as bringing bad luck to the next year.
  5. Visuals: There are several images that have a negative connotation among the Chinese – do not use them in any of your visuals during CNY:
    1. Clocks are related to funerals.
    2. Chrysanthemums are a flower to remember someone who has died.
    3. A green hat means the receiver’s spouse or partner is having an affair.
    4. Knives, swords and needles are considered lethal weapons that cannot be seen during CNY.
    5. Umbrellas and pears are a sign of separation.
  6. Western Aesthetics: Do not simply merge western aesthetics with the Chinese zodiac – we have 12 animals that each represent a year in the 12-year cycle. In recent years, many brands have launched Chinese zodiac products during CNY, but many have not gone down well because of their design. If brands are lucky, they will only get mocked – but if they offend people, expect major complaints.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is this: When you decide to do anything in China or related to the Chinese culture, consult your Chinese colleagues.


Societal Themes Shaping 2020

December 17, 2019

She’s not old enough to drive a car in her hometown of Stockholm, but that didn’t keep teen climate activist Greta Thunberg from gracing the cover of Time as its youngest-ever Person of the Year or getting nominated for a Nobel Prize. Time described her as a “galvanizing force” – the “avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture.” Her youthfulness, compelling personality and forceful message have drawn millions into the climate conversation.

Youth climate activism is one of three societal themes that helped define 2019 and promise to influence commerce and politics in the year ahead. The other two themes are the redefining of corporate purpose and the continued surge of investor interest in ESG (environmental, social, governance).

The Purpose of a Corporation

In August, the Business Roundtable (BRT) released a restatement of its Principles of Corporate Governance. In a major shift from four decades of shareholder focus, the document broadened the purpose of a corporation to encompass its responsibility to create value for all stakeholders.

While delivered in 2019, the BRT’s new position evolved from years of corporate soul‑searching. But this official validation of a brave new stakeholder-inclusive world has changed the corporate conversation in important ways. For one thing, the already blurred line between purpose and CSR has gotten even fuzzier. Indeed, the BRT offered that its new definition “outlined a modern standard for corporate responsibility.”

Sensing the opportunity, consultants of every ilk have begun vying to help corporate strategists and branding leads find that all-important North Star. Regardless of what function is driving the purpose discussion, the inescapable truth is that all sustainable businesses fulfill a societal need. Enter the CSR professional. If the CSR team – not just the CSR communicators, but the practitioners – don’t have a place at the table, something’s amiss. This is an opportunity for CSR professionals to further demonstrate that this work is foundational, not ancillary, to a company’s long-term success.

Will the industry’s self-examination be authentic enough to yield game-changing progress on the role of business in society, or will it simply become an exercise in branding and marketing?

Answering Surging Investor Interest

Another major 2019 trend was the rise in investor engagement on ESG issues. It may be the single most consequential development in the CSR space in decades. As a result, many mid-size and smaller publicly traded firms, and even some large-cap firms, are now scrambling to shore up their CSR strategies and storytelling, as are companies planning IPOs or getting spun off from a larger parent.

In the face of this attention, companies may be changing how they report their CSR/ESG performance. While the broad-based, multistakeholder reporting framework known as the Global Reporting Initiative Standards is still the world’s most widely used CSR/ESG reporting scheme, its use has leveled off. The reporting frameworks gaining traction today focus primarily on investors, lenders and credit-rating agencies. These are early days, but we’re already seeing more investor-centric content in companies’ reporting strategies. What this means for communicating the “softer” stories such as community engagement and corporate philanthropy remains to be seen. But this increased financial focus has prompted some companies to begin issuing multiple, complementary or even single-topic publications.

Embracing Youth Climate Activism

Greta may be the principal icon of climate evangelism among today’s youth, but she’s hardly alone.

The Sunrise Movement, a self-described army of young people looking to “stop climate change and create millions of good jobs,” has exerted its share of influence. Half of the 20 candidates it endorsed in the 2018 mid-term elections won. Sunrise went on to stage high-profile sit-ins and climate strikes and was instrumental in pushing the Green New Deal framework. The organization is focused on winning governing power in 2020 and disrupting the status quo the following year to attain a Green New Deal.

Other youth-led groups like the UK Student Climate Network and Zero Hour are harnessing youthful energy and angst to influence their respective governments to take action. The focus of these actions is on political change, but it’s likely just a matter of time before this coveted audience turns its attention toward the marketplace.

This inevitability hasn’t been lost on the corporate world. Hundreds of companies shut down during the September 2019 Global Climate Strike or gave employees time off to participate, and thousands more drew attention to the protests. And groups like the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative have been conducting formal dialogues with activist youth.

These young people are voicing their anger at what they perceive to be inaction on a crisis of existential proportions. For companies looking to engage, tread lightly and be authentic and transparent about your intentions. Don’t mistake youthfulness for naiveté.

These are just three CSR-focused themes that will help shape 2020 as we move into the final decade of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By all accounts, we have a long way to go to reach these goals, so expect the next 10 years to be filled with the sound of urgency.


FleishmanHillard Wins North America Innovation SABRE Award for Most Innovative Diversity & Inclusion Initiative

December 16, 2019

ST. LOUIS, December 16, 2019 — FleishmanHillard’s agency-wide diversity and inclusion (D&I) program, FH Perspectives, was named the winner for “Most Innovative Diversity & Inclusion Initiative” by The Holmes Report’s Innovation SABRE Awards North America 2020.

The global public relations and marketing firm launched FH Perspectives in 2018 to unify all agency D&I initiatives under a single umbrella. FH Perspectives celebrates the unique outlook that each FleishmanHillard employee has and can rely on to best serve clients.

FH Perspectives strives to improve diversity and inclusion at FleishmanHillard by attracting and hiring diverse talent, nurturing a culture of inclusion, and increasing diverse supplier partnership efforts.

The Innovation SABRE Awards North America recognizes agencies, initiatives and campaigns that utilized insight and innovation to push boundaries, prove innovation and change behavior. The rest of the winners will be announced at the Innovation SABRE Awards North America ceremony in Chicago on February 12, 2020.

View the full list of winners here.


Telling a Complete Brand Story

December 11, 2019

Brands often struggle to tell a complete story. It’s even more challenging to tell a story that inspires consumers to sit up and listen – let alone act or change behavior as a result of said story. Does a brand tell a story about our products and services or a story about its heart and soul? According to FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap findings, the answer is both. A little more than half of consumers (53%) report their perceptions of a company are shaped by its behavior and impacts on society, and the remainder (47%) report that the products and services form the rest.

Harrison Monarth, New York Times bestselling author of The Confident Speaker, stated: “A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”

How can your brand accomplish this? Embrace the principles of creative storytelling by learning to think differently and make seemingly un-linkable connections between products and services AND hearts/minds – or, by thinking in the “upside-down” for any Stranger Things fans. Additionally, in terms of the Authenticity Gap, think about the nine drivers: Care of environment, doing right, consistent performance, credible communication, better value, customer care, innovation, employee care and community impact. Is your brand using any of these drivers?

A powerful brand story stirs the soul and goes beyond a product or service. Here’s how some of the world’s most admired and financially successful companies tell a complete story, fire on our imaginations and give back to society, all while delivering business results. If there is one universal human truth, it’s that creative storytelling defies boundaries.

Download FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap Report from our dedicated report page here.


FleishmanHillard Shortlisted for Four Awards at PRWeek U.S. Awards 2020

ST. LOUIS, December 11, 2019 — FleishmanHillard has been shortlisted for four awards at the PRWeek U.S. Awards 2020, presented by PRWeek.

The global public relations and marketing agency earned finalist nods for work on behalf of clients, United Nations, Reese’s and Iowa Economic Development Authority.

  • United Nations Women’s HeForShe Movement, “More Powerful Together: Shining a New Light on the HeForShe Movement and Gender Equality in the #MeToo Era” (Finalist, Best in Global Effort)
  • Reese’s, “The Swap Shop to Prove Your Love for New Reese’s Lovers” (Finalist, Best in Consumer Launch)
  • Iowa Economic Development Authority, “From Corn to Cultured — Reshaping Perceptions of Iowa” (Finalist, Best in Integration)
  • Iowa Economic Development Authority, “From Corn to Cultured — Reshaping Perceptions of Iowa” (Finalist, Best in Public Sector)

Winners will be announced at the 2020 PRWeek U.S. Awards ceremony in New York City on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

View the complete list of finalists on PRWeek.


Celebrating Human Rights Day

December 9, 2019
By FH Perspectives

Human Rights Day commemorates the day the General Assembly of the UN adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It is one of the most translated documents around the world – available in more than 500 languages – and celebrates the inalienable rights and freedoms that all people share. Article 1, for example, emphasizes equality and the right to live free from discrimination, which is inextricably linked to our agency’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.

Today, human rights are as important as ever. In fact, more than 90% of the targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030 –  are linked to international human rights standards. We honor our shared humanity and the important work being done to safeguard human rights within FleishmanHillard and our communities worldwide, on Human Rights Day and every day. 


Accessibility Lives at the Center of Inclusion

December 8, 2019

You can’t be inclusive and not care about accessibility.

People with disabilities make up about 20% of the total population; in the U.S. alone, that’s 60 million people. So, by definition, diversity, inclusion – and, yes, accessibility – are concepts fundamental to how we as communicators work and advise our clients.

At FleishmanHillard, we’re committed to helping our clients connect with the people who matter to them – across the full spectrum of humanity. Our work in accessible content management and web design has taught us that one size does not fit all. Based on that experience, we’ve identified some valuable best practices that go beyond digital experiences to encompass all communications:

  1. Be person-first. When featuring individuals with disabilities, we must encourage all end-users to see the person, not their disability. Choose images and language that honor the individual. And that includes calling attention to the disability only if the context requires it. For style questions, the National Center on Disability and Journalism offers a helpful resource.
  2. Use simple and direct language. Avoid euphemisms like “challenged” or “differently-abled”, which can sound awkward, if not downright patronizing. Instead, use direct language – such as “has hearing loss.” It’s clear and conveys respect. Hyperlinks offer another way to be more direct; avoid “click here,” for example, and opt instead for unique and descriptive hyperlinks that tell users where they’re going, such as “view tips on writing for accessible audiences.” This approach also accommodates those who are scanning the page using an assistive technology, which presents all links as standalone text.
  3. Apply color carefully. Using color can be tricky. For example, while people with color blindness or other vision issues can’t decipher reds and greens, these same colors can be extremely helpful to those with cognitive disabilities. The answer: Use color alongside other cues – such as naming, bullets and icons – to signal changes in the hierarchy of information. When possible, test designs with end users before publishing.
  4. Make the trade-off. Sometimes, the choice to be accessible might seem to compromise functionality or aesthetics for the majority. For example, a beautifully designed document may use a font or type size that’s difficult for some to read. In websites, it’s standard practice for hyperlinks that take the user to a different website to open in a new window. That’s a challenge, however, for those using screen reader technology, which functions best in a single browser window.
  5. Stay curious and open. The only thing changing faster than technology is our understanding of the individual abilities we collectively bring to the table. Keep your communications flexible. Continue to evolve along with technology and the world around us and adapt to the needs of the people you serve.

Remember this: If diversity means being invited to the party, and inclusion means being asked to dance – accessibility means the dance floor accommodates everyone’s unique and individual needs. Your end users are people first. Meet them where they are. And design communications that welcome them.


FleishmanHillard’s Anne de Schweinitz Selected as 2020 Cannes Pharma Lions Jury President

December 5, 2019

ST. LOUIS, December 5, 2019 — FleishmanHillard’s Anne de Schweinitz, global managing director, Healthcare, has been chosen as Pharma Lions Jury President at the 2020 Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity. This marks the 12th straight year that FleishmanHillard has been represented on a Cannes Lions jury, and the fourth year the firm has participated on the Health Lions jury.

Anne de Schweinitz, global managing director, healthcare
Anne de Schweinitz

For four years in a row, de Schweinitz has been recognized as one of the most influential people in healthcare communications by MM&M and PRWeek’s “Health Influencer 50.” She served on the Pharma Lions Jury and as Healthcare Jury President for the eurobest Awards in 2016. At FleishmanHillard, de Schweinitz manages an award-winning team of more than 300 global healthcare communications specialists within the agency’s Healthcare sector.

Cannes Lions Jury Presidents are revered and proven industry experts with creative expertise, skill and talent. They lead fellow jury members in honoring innovative excellence and effectiveness. De Schweinitz will guide the Pharma Lions jury as it selects the most innovative work that brings science and innovation to life, while aiding in diagnosis, prescription, disease mitigation or illness management for practitioners, patients and targeted consumers.

Winners will be celebrated at the 2020 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity each evening from June 22- 26, 2020.

Read about Anne de Schweinitz and the other jury presidents here.


FleishmanHillard Celebrates Four Wins at 2019 ICCO Global Awards

December 4, 2019

ST. LOUIS, December 3, 2019 — FleishmanHillard won Regional Network of the Year Award – Americas and three client campaign awards at this year’s ICCO Global Awards, presented by ICCO PR. The annual awards program recognizes excellence and effectiveness in global public relations work.

This marks the third consecutive year the global public relations and marketing firm earned Regional Network of the Year – Americas honors. In addition to the agency accolade, the firm was also recognized across three campaign categories for work on behalf of clients, Samsung and Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The FleishmanHillard team receives four awards from the 2019 ICCO Global Awards, including Regional Network of the Year – Americas.

  • FleishmanHillard (Regional Network of Year Award – Americas)
  • Samsung, “Mobile Couture” (World’s Best PR Campaign, Technology)
  • Samsung, “Mobile Couture” (World’s Best PR Campaign, Event, Launch or Stunt Award)
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation, “Writing a Global Wrong in LGBT+ Media” (World’s Best PR Campaign, Not-For-Profit)

Winners were announced at the ICCO Global Awards ceremony in London on Tuesday, December 3, 2019.

View the complete list of winners here.


FleishmanHillard Shortlisted for Two Campaign U.S. Agency of the Year Awards

December 3, 2019

ST. LOUIS, December 3, 2019 — FleishmanHillard has been named a finalist in two agency categories at the first-ever Campaign U.S. Agency of the Year Awards.

The global public relations and marketing firm earned shortlist nods for the Agency Network of the Year and PR Agency of the Year categories.

In its first year in the U.S., the awards program recognizes people and agencies that have played positive roles in the advancement and reputation of the industry while achieving extraordinary business results. Winners will be announced at the Campaign U.S. Agency of the Year Awards ceremony in New York City on Wednesday, January 29, 2020.

See the complete list of finalists here.