Kit Kwok, Partner at DLA Piper, drew out the expertise of the panel on crisis management by presenting a hypotehtical crisis and asking them to respond. In the example case, a company's products have hurt consumers, resulting in protestors and calls from the government. The panelists' responses revealed some best practices and advice for others looking to respond appropriately in a bad situation.

Haiying Yuan, President at Yuan Associates

“From a government affairs perspective, the worst a company can do (in a time of crisis) is look for guanxi without a professional analysis of stakeholders.”

“Having a strategy across China – ha! You have to take a different strategy and respect the cultural differences (in different regions of China).”

“As a China CEO, protecting your company is the responsibility of your career.”

Randal Phillips, Managing Partner for Asia at Mintz Group

“Too many times companies try to bury it. It’s not wine, it doesn’t get better with age.”

“Most of the time, in my experience, the local team has a pretty good handle on it, but many times corporate headquarters doesn’t see it that way. Communications can help to bridge that gap.”

Debby Cheung, President at Ogilvy and Mather Shanghai and Ogilvy Public Relations, China/Hong Kong

“We’ve done research on crisis in China that says that when there’s a crisis outbreak, if the (company's response is) more than 24 hours after, it severely impacts the negativity and duration of the crisis.”

“For an intense situation, you need time to assess what you can say. But you need to say something. Issue a statement that demonstrates you care, but is vague enough. That will buy time for further assessment.”

“It's important that global companies have mechanisms and guidelines to make sure local operations can respond in neutral and caring matter so they can soothe the tension in their local market before they can get in touch with headquarters.”

Susan Munro, Partner at Steptoe and Johnson

“Companies that think theres a quick fix get in a worse situation than those that understand this is really serious.”

See all of AmCham China’s APCAC-related content here.