by Charles Shen
June 3rd, 2014

One of the most important opportunities for corporate brands and CEOs to engage stakeholders in Asia Pacific this year will be at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), with the major meetings happening in Beijing in November.

Over 1000 CEOs and executives, high level officials and political leaders will convene for the APEC CEO Summit to discuss the development and direction of the region under this year’s theme of “Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership”.

APEC presents communicators with the opportunity to really engage in regional policy making through a series of strategic executive profiling and engagement programmes, thought leadership development, CSR and community partnership arrangements.

So what can you do to help your CEO do to make the most of this opportunity?

Stand out from the crowd:  With so many “Type A’s” present, you can bet it’ll be a battle to the end for the attention of journalists, world political leaders, key officials, academics, think tank officials, and many other influential individuals.  Careful planning, story seeding with media, whitepaper development, and strategically using multiple delivery channels to communicate ideas before and during the summit are just some of the ways to set yourself apart from the masses. Being familiar with APEC issues and priorities will get your CEO some of the way, but getting to the finish line can only be achieved through thorough preparation, the establishment of a clear point of view on key regional business, economic, and trade issues, and engagement readiness whether it be with media, or an influential politician or think tank official.

Have an opinion about China:  While APEC has a diverse membership with 21 member economies, including the likes of the United States, Japan, and Russia, this year’s meeting will be all be about the hosts – China, and fundamentally, what kind of leadership role China will play both regionally and globally.  This means that to speak with credibility, your CEO will need to have a clear position on how China’s growing influence will change the region and ultimately the world.

Know China inside out: All eyes will be on China, including domestic, environmental, social, economic, and political issues. For businesses that have operations in China, this will be a good opportunity to highlight their contribution to supporting the progress China is already making on these domestic issues.  Carefully timed announcements of memorandums of understanding with Chinese partners, research and development arrangements, or CSR programmes are all good ways to show this contribution and offer profile opportunities.

The key thing to keep in mind is that while being in the room is already considered an achievement in itself, it should by no means be the only measure of success. Careful planning and preparation will be the difference between the CEO who attends and the CEO that actually makes a change.

Charles Shen is executive vice-president at Weber Shandwick China

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