Just how advanced is mobile commerce in China? Take this case study: On social app WeChat a few months back, 388 Smart cars sold in three minutes in a flash sale. People also made 1,751 down payments for Smart cars and sent in 6,677 sales queries.
Ogilvy Public Relations Beijing worked on the Smart campaign, through advertising and social content. Separately, it also helped out as Chinese internet giant Tencent raised enough donations in one week to build 120 sports fields for kids in rural China, through storytelling that spurred people to share the campaign, and through a hassle-free donation button on WeChat.
Everywhere, PR agencies are taking on roles that go beyond traditional public relations. But there may be an even wider range of opportunities in China, which is the world's largest smartphone market, possibly already the biggest e-commerce market and soon to be the leading economy.
Selina Teng, the co-managing director of Ogilvy PR Beijing who also heads the agency's China technology practice, encourages her team to seek out those opportunities, always thinking about brands' business objectives.
Since marketing is a newer art in China, local brands often don't hand over the kind of clear briefs that multinationals draw up, another chance for the PR agency to play a bigger role.
"What I always ask my team to do is, don't think of yourself as the content or media relations person," she said. "You need to think from the very beginning. Try to understand what's the real business objective. Then you need to work with your counterpart at the client to work out a very clear, very effective brief."
For her role in building an innovative technology practice and her qualities as a team leader, Ms. Teng is one of Ad Age's Women to Watch China 2014.
Ms. Teng, a 15-year veteran of Ogilvy PR, has long led its account for IBM in China. The agency also has local clients including Wandoujia, an app store, and Haval, a Great Wall Motor Co. SUV brand (for which Ogilvy PR has done everything from strategy and branding to a commercial for a new product.)
Ms. Teng has also been a mentor, helping retain talented people in an industry with heavy churn. Of the 16 people on her team a decade ago, seven have stayed on. Now she leads a team of about 80.
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And she is quick to give credit to her staff.
One of those seven original team members, Autumn Guo, originally worked with her on the tech business. Now he is VP for the auto practice, which worked on the Smart car campaign. Julie Zhou, director of the social team, helped Tencent on its CSR program to build sports fields.
Both faced turning points in their career when Ms. Teng helped them see openings to try something new, while staying within Ogilvy PR.
As a manager, "you can be a nice person to everyone and pat their shoulder and say 'good job,' but that's not enough for a leader," Ms. Teng said. "I think it's more important to find the right opportunities for people to grow. The sense of achievement makes them stay."
The Women to Watch China questionnaire:
First job: At a Chinese PR firm promoting sports and events.
Hobbies: swimming and cooking Chinese food.
Best advice you've ever gotten: It's the David Ogilvy quotation: "We sell or else."
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead: "David Ogilvy, of course."