Even though we can all agree that the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, different parts of the world are starting to ease back into life as we once knew it. Across Europe, countries are cautiously beckoning customers into shops and restaurants and making their way back to the office, while also managing regional spikes.
Parts of the world are further ahead in their pandemic journey, with some having locked down earlier and already dealt with new spikes of the virus. Our partners in four countries – Australia, China, India and South Korea – share their perspectives on what we can expect, based on their experiences, as well as the long-term impact on the economy and the media and comms landscape.
Tony Blackie, CEO at Blackie McDonald
“Australia and New Zealand are emerging from the pandemic with a bruised but quickly re-generating business and economic sector. To co-ordinate the battle against Covid-19, Federal and State Governments joined in a national cabinet to make decisions to fit the whole nation. The National Cabinet provided strong incentive assistance to business in the form of job subsidies. One-off business loans have kept many companies going and set them up for a return to work. The result is a marketplace rapidly returning to former scale but with some added benefits.
Australia had largely outsourced its manufacturing sector to our neighbours to the north, principally China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Korea. A move is now underway to claw that manufacturing capability back to Australia and New Zealand, creating new companies as a result.
Currently we are finding media very hungry for stories, particularly those servicing B2B in tech, fintech, business generally and finance. This is despite many publications having downsized during the height of the pandemic. Online publications are obviously having the greatest resurgence, but the traditional newspaper sector has also been lifted and circulation figures indicate a rise in readership of those traditional outlets.”
Gayan Dhrubajyoti, founder & CEO of Candour Communications
“The situation in India, as always, is a bit complicated. The pandemic is yet to reach its peak as the number of daily new cases and deaths are still increasing. However, if we consider the size of India’s population, the deficient healthcare infrastructure, size of country and then factor in the high percentage of people who are recovering, the situation doesn’t look as bad. The stock markets appear to agree and are clawing back towards pre-pandemic levels notwithstanding the fact that many sectors of the economy have been badly hit.
There has been a perceptible shift in how people are viewing the changes that have come about, moving from a focus on what is happening to what the new normal will look like and how we adapt to it. One inevitable has been an increasing reliance on technology to find solutions to the issues faced by the country, including many IT services and outsourcing companies in the country announcing that they will permanently move large sections of their manpower to WFH, obviously powered by various technology platforms and solutions. It’s a similar story in the communications industry, and I believe our productivity has only gone up. As regards media, for a few years now the relevance of online/digital has been increasing at the cost of print, this has become even more pronounced now.
One other aspect of note is China and the impact of frostier bilateral relations. This translates into the banning of some Chinese apps, guidance on avoiding some companies and pockets of people refusing to buy Chinese goods on the one hand. However, on the other, the country is actively courting companies from nations that are similarly aligned by laying out the red carpet with promises of easier regulations and other incentives to set up manufacturing facilities in the country. Helping this along is the push towards self-reliance and the realisation that import substitution is possible and a necessity in many sectors.”
Jim James, Managing Director at EASTWEST PR
“In China the lockdown is seen as the least of the problems facing the economy. While it was eased before other countries, the occasional flare up has led to city-wide short-term restrictions. There have also been severe floods in central China but the national services are more than fully funded and staffed. Tech-savvy media have been using mobile phones, 4G & 5G and tools like WeChat and Baidu for communications and file sharing with great competence for a long time and so the restrictions on travel have been an issue for meetings, but not for actually creating content. The main trend on the media scene is that of livestreaming; notably the addition of commerce to livestreaming and people from all walks of life becoming media influencers – including local Government officials.
The main challenge facing China is the USA, and its leverage of allies to take a stand against China. The tensions in Hong Kong, the Huawei saga and now closure of the China Consulate in Houston are affecting relations not only between the USA and China, but also apparently driving all countries to side with the USA against China. The Chinese don’t accept neutrality. The consequence from a PR perspective is that the media are now asking our consultants the nationality of the company we are pitching stories for.
Meanwhile, one indicator that underlying trade continues is the number of China-Europe freight trains dispatched in the first half of the year which surged to 5,122, up 36 percent year-on-year. To counter that I hear socially that many foreigners are struggling to stay in China due to tightening visa restrictions and a new personal tax law, and foreign media are inexorably leaving both mainland and Hong Kong for the sunny climes of Singapore, Bangkok and even Seoul.”
Heesang Yoo, Managing Consultant at Prism Comms
“South Korea is one of a handful of countries in the world that has successfully managed Covid-19 and one of handful of countries that hasn’t enforced lockdown from the start of the pandemic. With the Korean government’s “open” philosophy and 4T approach (testing, tracing, treatment and transparency), we’ve been able to minimise economic disruption in general and maintain “near normal” daily functioning via social distancing, mask wearing and heightened sanitation.
Nevertheless, the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected the Korean economy as well as the comms industry. Korean media are currently focused on revenue and offline activities rather than subscriptions and viewership. With journalists being let go by their former employers and then creating their own smaller media, the overall result will be the increased presence of a handful of powerful major media surrounded by several smaller, fragmented, online-based media.”
Thanks to our partners for their insights into how Covid-19 and the pandemic is shaping their worlds in their respective regions. For more information or to hear about other countries, such as Brazil, get in touch or read more blogs on our site.