In order to cater to the start-up business in China, Burson-Marsteller has launched its PR consultancy for start-ups called ‘Step up’, an initiative that first debuted in India in 2014. StepUp China will be led out of Beijing in partnership with Chinese agency Flyfinger.
Last year, 60 billion dollars of fresh funds and take private deals were done by startups in China (Source: CB Insights and Dealogic), making it an attractive market inspite of the slowdown in the Chinese economy. China is home to many storied start –up firms such as the e-comm giant Alibaba, mobile phone maker Xiaomi Corporation and the ride sharing firm Didi Kuaidi Joint Co.
Joe Peng, chief digital strategist, for Burson-Marsteller in Greater China told PRmoment India that start-ups require their PR advisors to be very flexible and more agile and its this ability that Step-Up China hopes to offer to its clients.
StepUp China aims to become a key driver of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in China by cooperating with top players in the value chain. StepUp China has two clients at the moment in the social media and net banking space.
Peng said that going forward technology based startups will remain a focal point for growth for ‘StepUp China’ as well energy and environment companies.
Taking the India model to China
StepUp was an idea that was first born in India in 2014 and its learnings are now being applied for China. The eastward transmission of expertise from India to China is quite unusual in the PR space. Atul Sharma, COO, Genesis Burson –Marsteller said that what StepUp India has to offer as a successful model for China is strong storytelling abilities and a lean, quick approach to a start-ups communication needs.
Sharma said that ‘StepUp India’ has doubled its client base from its launch in 2014. StepUp has worked with 36 clients till date including 8 retainers and 28 projects; including NASSCOM 10k program, Indian Angel Network, Rehan Yar Khan’s Orios Ventures and Sapience. ‘StepUp’ typically focuses on startups that have bagged at least series A funding, therefore ensuring some stability in the communication effort.
Sharma said that startups usually have a very well defined agenda and need, which could include specific business goals such as getting more customers. This enables ‘StepUp’ to offer a stripped down, focused approach to PR consultancy for startups including a younger, flatter, speedier team. This is the model GBM hopes to replicate for China as well.
GBM also hopes to leverage ‘Step Up’s’ learnings about storytelling from India to China. Typically, China is a PR market that relies heavily on paid media to get the message across.
Peng told PRmoment India that with such a situation, the experience with storytelling in India will help for the China market as well, where good content will help them look at non paid options as well.
GBM hopes to replicate this model in other global Asian markets as well which have a strong startup base.