Almost half (44 percent) of overseas media feel they are served ineffectively by Japanese companies, according to a survey conducted by Weber Shandwick Tokyo.


The most prevalent issue for journalists representing non-Japanese news outlets was poor access to management, an observation shared by 60 percent of respondents. Other areas needing improvement included speed of response (33 percent) and proactive PR strategies (27 percent).


Many of the comments made by the journalists addressed a lack of openness regarding Japanese corporate communications. Examples complaints that PR managers exhibit a tendency to protect rather than promote the CEO and that company representatives treat meetings with foreign journalists as opportunities to merely greet them instead of sharing news. Several journalists raised the issue of inequality, demanding the simultaneous distribution of Japanese and English press releases, equal access for domestic and foreign media and the proper maintenance of English-language corporate websites.

More than 30 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that the foreign media is served effectively by Japanese companies, 20 percent neither agreed nor disagreed, 44 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed, and 3 percent had no opinion; 70 percent of respondents suggested the need for a dedicated media newsroom on Japanese corporate websites, while 60 percent highlighted the need for suitable corporate facts & figures and 37 percent pointed to the need for high-resolution images and downloadable media kits, respectively


“Overall, the survey revealed that while several individual Japanese companies conducted world-class media relations, only about one-third of the respondents believe that the foreign media is served effectively, or somewhat effectively, by public relations offices and/or agencies of Japanese companies,” says Akihiko Kubo, president and CEO of Weber Shandwick in Japan. “It is clear from this that corporate Japan has a long way to go to raise the level of its international communications to that of companies representing the journalists’ home countries. The most important step on any journey is the first, and the road to improved media relations begins with a commitment to engage foreign journalists.”


The firm says the public relations offices and agencies of Japanese companies can begin to build and develop trust with journalists by promoting transparency and believes a commitment to simple yet effective steps—proactively sharing information, answering tough questions before they are asked, allowing CEOs to tell their stories—will lay the groundwork for better media relations.

The majority of respondents were Japan-based (70 percent); the balance hailing from Asia Pacific (23 percent), North America (7 percent) and Europe (7 percent). Print newspapers were the most common type of media to which respondents contributed reports on Japanese companies, followed by online media, magazines, newswires and broadcast media.