Chinese technology manufacturer Huawei has been in the news recently for its approach to PR and brand positioning. Following a slew of negative reports, the company has gone all out in an attempt to turn the tide of public and private opinion.
Concerns about Huawei centre on its history. Founded by ex-Chinese military engineer Ren Zhengfei, the company came under suspicion last year with accusations of spying by the US government. Parliamentarians in the UK followed suit this year by criticising a deal between the Huawei and BT to deliver hardware as part of Britain’s critical network infrastructure.
Huawei is hugely popular and well respected in its native China. Citizens are proud of its international status – especially when it comes to competing and winning against foreign companies on their own turf.
The marketing team at Huawei has employed a number of tactics to turn the tide of negative publicity. They’ve hired an ex- British government minister to head up what’s known as the ‘cell’ – a cyber-evaluation centre that provides ‘transparent’ testing facilities for potential clients to assess Huawei’s products before they buy in an attempt to provide transparency and build trust. In China, hiring a government minister would be enough to improve your reputation. Not so here, especially since it turns out that the cell is staffed entirely by Huawei employees causing MPs to raise further concerns and to request that GCHQ steps in.
As a B2B technology PR agency, preach to our clients that PR isn’t makeup to apply to cover company inadequacies. It has to be built on something authentic in order to achieve engagement and change perceptions.