Red Cross Society of China goes on PR offensive with microblog

15:26, July 05, 2011      

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The Red Cross Society of China opened a verified account at Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site operated by Sina Corporation, at approximately 2 p.m. on July 4. The account quickly attracted some 16,000 followers as of 11 p.m. on the same day.

Four micro-blog entries posted

The society posted four micro-blog entries in a row at around 7:30 p.m. on July 4, with three entries introducing the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the history of the society itself.

The last entry contains a link to a long blog post written by the society's Secretary-General Wang Rupeng to answer netizens' questions. This entry received more than 2,000 comments, and was re-posted more than 1,000 times in a short time.

Wang answered a total of 13 questions in the long post, mainly covering the Guo Meimei incident as well as the society's Business System branch, audit process, special status and management mode. The Guo Meimei incident refers to a recent scandal involving a 20-year-old girl who claimed to be an employee of the Red Cross Society of China. The girl was pictured online flaunting luxury items, such as cars and expensive jewelry.

'Guo Meimei incident' considered 'good thing'

In response to questions raised by microblog users, Wang said that the Guo Meimei incident is both a bad thing and a good thing for the Red Cross Society of China. It is a bad thing because she showed off her wealth and made up a false post at a nonexistent organ under the Red Cross Society of China, leading to public misunderstanding and discontent and seriously damaging its image and reputation.

It is also a good thing because this incident has enabled the Red Cross Society of China to recognize the problems and challenges it faces in terms of organization building, operations, fundraising and project implementation.

Wang said that Internet users mostly put forward valuable opinions and suggestions with good intentions to express their concerns to the Red Cross Society of China and expect it to improve its work. Nevertheless, the views and opinions of a few Internet users were irrational and impolite, and even irresponsible and groundless. For instance, they assumed that Guo Meimei is a biological and even illegitimate daughter of an official surnamed Guo and she wears a luxurious watch. Furthermore, some emotional Internet users went so far as to have completely denied the tremendous outstanding work of the Red Cross Society of China.

Wang expects the masses and media agencies to rationally deal with the Guo Meimei incident and make suggestions from the angle of promoting the development of China's Red Cross cause and fledging philanthropic cause.

"Many institutions have opened official microblogs. It was a little late for the Red Cross Society of China to open its microblog, but it will progress gradually," Wang said. The launch of the microblog aims to make the Red Cross organization open and transparent, increase its inactivity with Internet users and release information. The Red Cross Society of China will designate special personnel to update and publish information through its microblog.

"The Red Cross Society of China will select the donation project related to the Yushu earthquake as the first pilot project to make its project implementation open and transparent," Wang said.

The Red Cross Society of China will put its donation information management system online at the end of July and accordingly publicize the donation information related to the Yushu earthquake through the system before making related real-time, interactive exchanges with Internet users through its micro-blog.

Wang said that the Red Cross Society of China's projects are large. For instance, the Yushu earthquake project involved 70 to 80 subprojects and 2 billion yuan of donations. It is beyond its capacity to publicize the implementation details through its microblog. Thus, once the donation information management system is put online, Internet users can look into related information through the system.

By Wang Kala from Beijing News and the article is translated by People's Daily Online.
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