Telum Talks To... Ryan Chiu, Head of News & Media Production, TheValue.com
How did you start your journalism journey?
After graduation, I started my career with print media, covering local news, international news and features. When I left the traditional media industry, it coincided with the demise of The Sun and ATV. At that time, the media was undergoing rapid transformation. Real-time news evolved from being only text to going with graphics, text and sounds. Such transformation has also made the competition more fierce. Therefore, I decided to leave the traditional newspaper industry and work with digital online media. When I first joined TheValue.com, there was only one colleague, but I have kept the faith because I have always believed in the Chinese arts' potential. Therefore, I hope to be the pioneer in helping Chinese-speaking readers and netizens dig deeper into the world of creativity.
Paper media and online media have their strengths and weaknesses, and their operations are also very different. While paper media has mature and consistent operation models, it is difficult to make breakthroughs outside the fixed framework; online media is ever-evolving. But the bottom line has always been to provide our readers with accurate and quality information. This is something I hold close to my heart.
Please tell us more about TheValue.com. How is it different from other artistic and cultural platforms?
TheValue.com strives to provide market insights into the art world, but we also cover public auctions. Many people say that Hong Kong is a cultural desert with limited space for artistic development. I would say the future of art hinges upon whether we are dedicated to supporting and investing in this space. For instance, if someone is willing to pay a higher amount to buy a piece of art at auction, it will naturally arouse market attention and interest. After all, the value of an art piece has a quantitative side to it.
There is indeed a rising demand for artworks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people particularly keen on snapping up contemporary arts. I would argue that buying artworks is a long-term investment as it is very different from holding equities and making property investments. With this in mind, we want our platform to provide valuable intelligence ranging from various industry indicators to pricing for a particular item. By doing so, we want to educate members of the public about the industry, so they understand this is no longer a hobby for the upper-class.
TheValue.com has both Chinese and English versions. In the beginning, we focused on Chinese antiques, targeting mature aficionados. But we also wanted to broaden our scope of coverage to include contemporary arts to target a large audience.
What are the main types of content produced by TheValue.com?
In general, we mainly cover public auctions of two main seasons (March to May / June and September to February). There were basically no physical public auctions in the first half-year in 2020 due to the pandemic. Fortunately, it's now back to normal.
On the other hand, we also report on personnel changes in the arts industry, often those related to auction houses.
How do you work with PRs and brands? When a PR professional invites you to report on certain customer-related news, how should they make the pitch?
There is a variety of auction houses in Hong Kong, including but not limited to Tokyo Chuo Auction Hong Kong, China Guardian, Poly Auction, Sotheby's, Philips, Bonhams (Hong Kong) and L&H Auction.
When public relations and brands work with us, we hope to spend more time communicating with them to understand whether the concepts, reporting methods and directions of both parties are compatible. For instance, press releases should not always say the same thing. They should be able to bring up new topics for discussion. In addition, I would also appreciate it if a PR would insert a short synopsis in addition to press releases.
In recent years, I have found that some PR friends whom I have never met will directly list out a long list of questions in emails. They seem to be telling us to write the way they want us to. However, they are not supposed to dominate our editorial processes. Nonetheless, I would always say communication plays a key role in solving these teething problems and maintain a good relationship between public relations and the media.