Strategic communications is designed to provide ways for businesses to respond to needs and opportunities, including for building and sustaining reputation. Often based on a campaign approach, it entails coherent messaging delivered across various channels based on rigorous research, planning and then effective implementationto achieve long-term impact. Strategic communications is ingrained into the North Head DNA for our services to clients.

Case 1: Reputation Building and Product Marketing for a Chinese Cloud Computing Company


North Head provided strategic communications counsel for market positioning, established the communications infrastructure (“toolkit”), then implemented a corporate reputation building campaign and product marketing services. This enabled this middle-sized Chinese technology company to be the top brand for talent management software.


The client is a fast growing technology company with an entrepreneurial culture operating is new segment of the market, talent management. The founders of this company had as their objective to build the company into the top brand in the Chinese talent management software market. Also a positive reputation was needed for the investor community to facilitate funding for future business expansions.

The first challenge was to raise awareness among HR directors in large companies of the value of external talent management services, and the concept of cloud computing as the medium for provision of services. Previously the company’s business growth model had been based only on product development and sales. Prior marketing efforts had been opportunistic and adhoc. It lacked systemic marketing and corporate communications. There was little or not any systematic media communications or reputation programs. The management of the company had a limited understanding of branding and also given the size of the company, allotted budget and resources for PR were very limited. The challenge was initially to overcome such obstacles and establish an effective communications infrastructure and plan from senior management, both in terms of result and budget, to help this mid-sized local company gain recognition by the media and HR professionals as an industry leader.


North Head helped this company establish a professional communications infrastructure and increase its internal recognition of the value of PR. Our strategic counseling, professional skills and creative deliverables were well endorsed by both the client and the media. With efforts spanning two years, the company is now regarded as an industry leader and a primary purchase choice for HR professionals with the first place in market shares of the industry.

Case 2: Integrated Communication Services for the Leading Global 3D Printing Company


North Head designed strategy then implemented an integrated communication campaign for the world’s largest 3D printing company. This focused on the areas of corporate positioning / branding, media and government relations, and product promotion.


The client operates in an emerging industry and faces unique challenges, including:

1) improving awareness among target groups regarding the nature and potential value of 3D printing;

2) promoting the company’s business activities, including potential M&As and partnerships, in a positive context, while managing any market dominance/monopoly concerns;

3) enhancing brand recognition among its prospective customers in Chinese manufacturing and research institutions;

4) creating a favorable political and business environment and being perceived as a contributor to China’s development instead of a threat to domestic players.

The advanced manufacturing sector is one of the China’s seven strategic sectors for China, so government policies, inducements and restrictions are the main driving forces shaping the market. Government relations needed to be a key component of the communications strategy. Significantly, the company has no production or R&D in China, only sales, distribution and after-sales services.


1) Within six months, the client’s key messages and senior management have been reported by almost every leading business and trade media outlet; totaling over 600 reports. The high level media exposure directly contributed to the company’s market expansion in China. Our client was successfully positioned as an industry leader and an opinion leader in the 3D printing industry.

2) The meetings with government ministers generated important photo opportunities that are important for marketing and sales to signify official support. This is particularly important for many customers, including universities, research institutes, state owned enterprises (SOE).

3) The company’s international experience has also garnered it attention from the government, which will continue to create valuable opportunities for our client to take its China business to the next level.

Case 3: Reputation Management for an International Agricultural Biotechnology Company


The client is a global leading agricultural biotechnology company from North America. North Head helped it establish systematic reputation management infrastructure in China, encompassing media relations and government communications.


As foreign investment in the agricultural sector is sensitive, and that the primary product of the company is closely associated with genetically modified organisms (GMO), the client’s China management team sought to establish a comprehensive and professional reputation management framework and a crisis alert mechanism. The company had been acquired by a larger conglomerate, but lacked an in-house communication team in China. It was expected to comply with corporate headquarters requirements and growing communications demands in China from a range of parties including joint ventures and farmers’ groups. Meanwhile, through effective communications with governments and media surrounding sensitive issues, the client wanted to minimize potential negative impact on its business operations from government policies, regulations and adverse public opinion.


The client established a professional communications infrastructure, and has expanded its relationships with government, media and other key stakeholders is a more systematic way. Communications are now related to business objectives and more responsive to the rapid changes of the China market and the agricultural sector. Timely reactions and effective strategies provided by North Head during the product crises earned high recognition from the China management. Analytical reports of China’s policy trends were convenient for the China management to update its US headquarters, which were also appreciated by the headquarters.

Case 4: Stakeholder Engagement and Government Relations Capabi-lities for an International Bioscience Company


The client is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of seeds, crop protection and non-agricultural pest control. The government relations (GR) department realized that many people at the local levels and in the joint ventures had interactions with government officials, but (GR) had little knowledge of the extent and details. North Head creatively mapped out external stakeholders and expanded and improved the spokesperson and government communications skills available to the company.


The stakeholder resources in large MNCs operating in China are usually diffused between different levels across several departments. This dispersed situation is not optimal for the China headquarters Government and Public Relations functions in understanding the whole picture of the contacts and coordinating resources to build up reputation programs. Besides that, corporate key messages needed to be cascaded down to and delivered by these internal stakeholders to media and government officials at different levels. That requires internal stakeholders to stay informed on the strategies of the GR/PR functions and grasp the necessary skills for communications. Also there was a fear that many of these persons did not have the skills and confidence to manage these contacts to the optimal benefits of the company. The client hoped to map out and collect all stakeholder information in an efficient manner, build rapport for empowering internal stakeholders with effective communications skills, to support the company’s business strategy in China.


The workshop and onsite training were active and engaging. The participants generally felt the training was useful and interesting. They learned new skills that were useful to their jobs and also gained a new understanding of the GR/PR function, which would serve as a strong foundation for future internal collaboration. For the GR/PR functions, they mapped and collected the corporate stakeholder lists with minimal internal friction and ran potential issue and crisis simulations. Through active discussions onsite, the GR/PR function also enhanced their knowledge and understanding of real business challenges particularly at the local operational levels, which is imperative for effective strategic government and media communications.