Woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1746-1849)


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In today's busy world, Japan has carved a special niche in the world of international dealings in business, economics and other areas. Public relations is often overlooked in Japanese business dealings, simply because of the value the Japanese place in modesty. One talking about one's own products and quality is less credible than another person or organization commending your products and company(7).
With a population of 126.2 million (1997)(5), there is quite a large audience for the message if the writer knows just how to craft it and distribute it. Advertisements in Japan can range from nationwide television and radio broadcasts to a small advertisement in a local newspaper. However, there are so many message being sent out to the Japanese consumer, that it is important for a public relations practitioner to tailor their message to the specific target audience they are trying to reach. Otherwise, their message will be lost in the shuffle. PR writers must not only attract the attention of the busy city-dweller, but they must keep the attention of their audience in order to allow the message to sink in and be acted upon. Businessmen eating at a Japanese restaurant
In Japan, the primary model of public relations used is the "personal influence" model. It is widely used because the culture requires that business partners build stable relationships by communicating with them in informal settings. Another term to help public relations practitioners working in Japan is giri. This term means "the things people must do or the correct way of behavior for smooth social life." (2) If foreign practitioners are to do well in Japanese business settings, they must obey these rules.

Media relations are also one of the most significant activities practiced by a public relations practitioner. If a third party reports the information about a company, then it leads to greater credibility in the eye of the consumer or target publics. Yet the public opinion that is gathered through journalists is intended to help the company change public opinion, not necessarily the organization's system or corporate culture(7).

The present economic environment has severely impacted the marketing and advertising budgets of Japanese companies. Advertising expenditures in Japan declined dramatically in 1992 from their 1991 level. In 1994, they finally recovered to 5,168.2 billion yen ($50.7 billion at 102 yen/dollar), about the same level as in 1990 and 1991. The Japanese advertising industry is now rethinking traditional methods of informationd dissemination and considering new strategies. In 1994, about 64 percent of all advertising expenses in Japan was spent on mass media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Most of the other 36 percent was spent on printed materials, outdoor signs/ads and exhibitions(6). Successful American companies in the Japanese market have learned to adjust their message with the specific target audience in mind. Advertising and public relations tactics and methods that are succesful in America may not be so in Japan, or other nations. There are agencies and marketing consultants in Japan that should be of good use to American advertisers hoping to sell their product or company image overseas.

Here are some specifics on media outlets available in Japan.

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