March 6, 2015
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Comments on Japan Inc.’s global PR strategy

Recently with the appointment of some foreigners to high-profile global communications chief roles at Japanese multinationals (which is not an everyday occurrence), Arun Sudhaman of The Holmes Report asked me to supply comments for his astute analysis article which follow below:

“The main stumbling block for some are conservative corporate cultures infamously dismissive of a communications function which usually isn’t well understood in the first place,” says Huntsworth Asia-Pacific chairman Bob Pickard, who launched Edelman’s presence in Japan a decade ago.

“Then there is the entrenched inertia of what in some companies are mighty domestic PR departments anchored in the old ‘press club system’ which still looms large in Tokyo.”

“It’s tough to tackle these daunting challenges but overcoming them can be done with ample listening, diplomatic tact, consensus seeking and abundant patience,” adds Pickard. “Corporate communications life in Japan isn’t for everyone. It can be full of frustrations!”

Still, Pickard is fairly bullish about the potential upside. Japan’s country brand is consistently ranked above Korea and China, which surely counts as an advantage for its companies, and the country is comfortable with both advanced communications technologies and social networks, whether international or indigenous.

“The exhilarations are absolutely worth it,” says Pickard. “The quality design, the attention to detail, the relationship-centrism, the continuous improvement in the PR craft; these are all Japanese characteristics which can travel well  beyond the country’s borders.”


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