The Beijing Public Security Bureau announced last Tuesday (July 13) a brand new police public relations department for the police in the city, as the first provincial level police public relations agency in China. In addition, all the police agencies in Beijing are required to set up PR offices by the end of the month, and train every officer in the field.
The new PR offices will serve not only Beijing locals, but also migrant population, and media. Today, three new PR officers made their debut, as part of this programme, Asia One reported. The new PR officers are all vice-presidents of their departments, and will serve as direct liaisons with the media and public, releasing news and statements. The PR officers and their subordinates will also participate in blogs and other forms of social media, to communicate with the public, and to better understand these channels.
In the near future, media from Hong Kong and Macao will be allowed to attend routine press conferences in Beijing, and there are even prospects for overseas media participation. This, however, has not been yet confirmed.
The new PR offices will have a daunting, challenging task ahead, but this is a step in the right direction, provided that their efforts will be fair and transparent instead of propagandistic. A first step would be to update the online presence of the Beijing Municipal public security bureau, followed by the logical involvement in local social networks, microblogs, etc. Dealing with negative press is, however, the most challenging task. News like the one reported by The Guardian today make it impossible for PRs to convince the public to have a better view regarding the Chinese police. Hopefully, some basic PR training will be extended at all levels, and street police will also learn how to deal with the public.