BEIJING (AdAgeChina.com) -- Hewlett-Packard Co. is courting young tech-savvy Chinese by sponsoring a series of blogger gatherings in the mainland.
Called Punch Party, the gatherings brings bloggers around Greater China together "to bond and discuss an important topic in real life," said Beijing-based Tzyy Wang, an account director at Hill & Knowlton, which helped HP organize the events.
HP is using the events to build thought leadership by bringing together influencers in an engaging, competitive format. There are plenty of bloggers to pick from too. More than 100 million blogs were created in China by over 50 million bloggers through November 2008, according to the Internet Society of China. A year earlier, China had just over 47 million blogs.
"Bloggers are often creating online communities but the Punch Parties bring bloggers physically together creating a 'real world' community," Ms. Wang said.
The events are modeled on PechaKucha Nights, a series of informal gatherings that started in Tokyo in 2003. PechaKucha Nights are now now held in hundreds of cities around the world.
At the Punch Parties, a select group of well-known bloggers is invited to individually present their views in rapid-fire delivery for seven minutes, at 20 seconds per slide, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. The event is capped with an open discussion and a vote for best speaker.
HP has hosted three Punch Party events in China this year, during which 18 well-known bloggers spoke on topics ranging from fashion to technology to environmental protection -- the theme of the last blogger party held in September 2009.
(The title was "Everything Can Be Green Except Your Hat," a humorous reference to a Chinese expression that describes a man wearing a green hat as a cuckold.)
Past speakers at Punch Party events include Vista Cheng from Taiwan, Jansen Lu and Rudi Leung from Hong Kong and Zhouzhou from Beijing. The fourth will take place in Beijing on Dec. 18, when bloggers from five Asian countries will speak.
The audience at those events included 139 lesser-known bloggers. About half of them posted about the experience.
But the real audience tunes in online at a dedicated site on Sina.com, blog.sina.com.cn/punchparty, where the speeches are posted for general viewing.
The first three events generated a total of 21 million impressions, 1,054,288 clicks and 1,273 comments.
In a post-party survey, more than 50% of respondents said the event was a good platform to meet old friends or make new ones.
HP came up with the idea for the blogger series at the end of last year, said Robin Seow, Beijing-based marketing director of HP's Personal Systems Group in China.
"Bloggers want to express themselves. We wanted to create a platform that is neutral and which fits in with how bloggers want to be seen in China. They don't want to be a spokesman for a company and we respect that, but we still want to be able to bring different bloggers together to interact," Mr. Seow said. "That's the power of new media."
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