Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hong Kong Protests Implications on Public Relations

Thousands of Hong Kong residents have taken the streets to protest for a pro-democracy environment. Protesters want to be able to elect their Chief Executive in 2017, however Beijing says that those chances are very unlikely. Although most of the demonstrations have been peaceful and in accordance with the law, there have been a few instances that exhibit the tension that has risen in China.

How does public relations come into play?

The police have been filmed and witnessed to use excessive force on protesters, like pepper spray and tear gas. This caused even more protesters to fill the streets to the extent that major roads were blocked for the fight towards a democracy. In an effort to maintain goodwill, the police were also filmed washing out the eyes of those hit with pepper spray. Goodwill, which essentially means the amount of value that a company's good reputation adds to its overall value, is one of the most fundamental aspects of public relations.

This is not to say that the protesters are the sole victims of police brutality. The entire demonstration has been a back-and-forth fight between the police and the protesters, yet the biggest fight is how both sides, albeit more the police, maintain a positive image in the media. The protestors have the duty to seem peaceful in the eyes of the public, as victims of police brutality.

The police on the other hand are notoriously seen as the bad guy, with reports of police beating a handcuffed protestors while others stood watch. While the need for a controlled body of authority is necessary, using excessive force against protesters will prove to be a troubling move on the police.

News stories about the police abusing their powers and provoking innocent victims is, and has proved to be, a public relations nightmare. With tragedies like Ferguson and Trayvon Martin, the police in Hong Kong must maintain the safety of their citizens while making sure that they do not cross any lines with the authority of their positions.

The future of Hong Kong is still unknown. The protesters and the government see no resolution in sight, and the uncertainty of the country has serious global implications like what role their economy would play in 2017 and on.