Understanding the Chinese media training market
PMA Media Training provides communications training to the media industry. Established in 1980 in London, the business was taken over by Keith and Riva Elliott in 1988. A key factor in their success has been an insistence that all tutors are working practitioners in their chosen field and are therefore up-to-date with the rapid changes taking place in their industries.
Back in 2006, Riva took responsibility for Business Development within the company and was keen to investigate export opportunities. Some initial desk research suggested China could be a good market for PMA; this was backed up when Riva met with some delegates from the Chinese General Administration for Press and Publicity at a local trade mission. However, before investing further time and money, Riva wanted to gain a better understanding of the Chinese market.
PMA joined the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Passport to Export programme for new and inexperienced exporters and learned about the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS). The EMRS is a UKTI Scheme providing professional advice and funding to help businesses understand the dynamics of a potential overseas market before creating an appropriate strategy for launching in this market and there is a nationwide team of professional Research Advisers to support individual companies.
Riva met with Richard Gilbert, an EMRS Research Adviser, and explained they needed to understand whether their current offering was appropriate for the Chinese market or how their training approach should be adapted, which regions might be more suitable and how they should promote their services in the market. Richard helped Riva to create a plan to enable these strategic decisions; the crux of the plan was a market research trip to China to interview relevant people and find the necessary information.
Armed with a full itinerary of meetings, Riva spent two weeks in China interviewing MDs and CEOs of both magazine and book publishing firms, Chinese government officials, journalists and UK embassy experts in China.
“We learned such a lot!” exclaimed Riva, “The market dynamics were quite different to the UK with large publishing houses managing books, scientific journals and magazines and we discovered that their methods of learning are far less creative than in the UK.” Training from a UK provider was found to be highly desirable, although it became apparent that PMA Media Training would need to significantly adapt their offering to a more traditional ‘classroom-based’ style to succeed in the market. Riva was also surprised by the high value placed on developing relationships face-to-face and their service would have to focus on this. Another significant finding was the size of the opportunity in China; whilst this was clearly exciting, Riva knew that PMA would struggle to manage such large-scale business with their current resources. Riva concluded that, whilst there were clearly opportunities in the major cities within China, they were perhaps not yet ready for PMA’s more innovative learning approach, and the scale was somewhat daunting. PMA decided to focus their efforts on the smaller markets of Hong-Kong and Singapore, where PMA’s more innovative style was more appropriate, but keep a ‘watching brief’ on the Chinese Market.
Fast forward to 2014 and PMA Media Training has been taken over by The Press Association. During the recession, PMA spent more of their time maintaining existing business. However, since business has been picking up, they have been re-establishing contacts in China. Riva explained their links with the Far East are still strong. In addition, Keith Elliott, Chairman, has been a regular Keynote Speaker at the prestigious Asian Publishing Convention held at different venues throughout the Far East including Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Singapore and Vietnam.
Riva is optimistic, “Tackling the huge Chinese market seemed rather daunting back in 2006 but now, with the strong relationships we’ve developed, a good understanding of the market learned throughout the past six years and with the backing of the Press Association, we are in a strong position to win from the many opportunities in China.”
Recommending the EMRS, Riva explained, “Without the support of the Export Marketing Research Scheme and what we have learned about the market, I doubt we would have had the courage to follow the Chinese opportunity through. It has been a long courtship process but that is the way business is done in China. You only get one shot at it and we are determined to get it right.”
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Topics: Market Research