Traditional and Digital PR Strategies for Foreign Brands in Japan

What PR Agencies in Japan can offer

Mainstream media in Japan has held great influence over the Japanese public. So many international brands rely on these outlets to get their message out. This includes newspapers, magazines, and television. However, the Japanese press is rather complex. This results in the majority of non-Japanese businesses requiring a lot of help for the right coverage.

The simplest route is to work with a PR firm that is located in Japan. While Japanese PR is the key to successfully entering the market, public relations in Japan have been rapidly advancing over the past years.

It can be seen that the global trends are moving toward digital-first content marketing. In Japan, this has been adopted

Continue to read to see how foreign brands can comprehend PR in Japan. Then you can decide how much time, money, and energy should be put into localizing your PR components in marketing initiatives.

What does PR look like in Japan?

Public rations, also known as PR, have played an essential role for any big Japanese name brand. This even includes the government, NGOs, corporations, and professional/trade union, groups. It’s important to be seen that your entity is commuting with the Japanese public.

In Japan, television, newspaper, and sometimes radio is still part of people’s everyday lives. This means on average a person watches over 2 hours of traditional tv per day as well as consumes a large amount of other media.

There is fierce competition for space on these networks. Companies pay a large amount for short commercial slot time, usually around 15 seconds. The only way for a press release to stand out and get noticed from the rest is to build a relationship within your specific sector with PR editors. This includes arranging a face-to-face meeting or doing follow-up calls. Maintaining this relationship is an important role of PR agencies in Japan. 

While this may not sound different from how PR works in other countries, the second important thing to know is that Japan has a complex and difficult PR system to understand.

There are specific procedures and rules for how and when your deliver your information to major broadcasting media. Only those with experience can easily navigate Japanese PR..

“Japan has an incredibly complex press release system with specific procedures and rules for how and when your delivery your information to major broadcasting media”
Developments in
Japanese PR

Traditional public relations have gone a drastic change because of the ever changing and evolving digital market as well as an increasing initiative for businesses to have a more accurate performance tracking. Here are a few takeaways:

Platforms that offer digital PR services have grown significantly in recent years. This includes PR Times whose popularity and sales have steadily grown between 2016-and 2021.

Many PR firms are launching and enhancing new services to give to their consumers. These services include content creation and digital marketing, too.

There is more and more cross-over between marketing activity and PR where the goal is to have something unique/newsworthy and have it reach as many people as possible. Whether is through a conventional press release or a digital marketing channel. 

The traditional face-to-face opportunity for press officers and editors of Japanese PR agencies has decreased. This forced people to find new ways to develop relations virtually. 

Now, PR is no longer a one-way direction. This simply means to get your message to the greatest number of readers and viewers. Successful companies and agencies realize this strategy needs to entice audiences to engage and interact with brands.

Services Offered by Japanese PR

The Public Relations Society of Japan (PRSJ) conducted a service on 202 PR companies. This gives a snapshot of the kind of services that are offered in Japan. The market is shifting towards multidisciplinary communication strategies.

Take look at the services that are offered:

Service Offering

Percentage of Agencies that Offer Service

Publicity Planning and Execution


Mass Media Relations


PR Consultancy Services


Press Conferences/PR Event Planning & Management


Monitoring and Clipping


Information Gathering and Analysis


Sponsored Editorial Content


Measurement of PR Effectiveness


Marketing Consulting Services


Social Media Communications Using Influencers


Source: The Public Relations Society of Japan (PRSJ)

Key Takeaways

It’s no surprise that social media influencer marketing is one of the fasting growing areas in Japanese PR. What makes this interesting that how many firms are offering sponsored editorial content. This requires a decent amount of in-house making abilities. 

More agencies are offering marketing consulting services. Therefore, PR agencies are increasingly going after marketing dollars. This was previously seen when many advising agencies were going after PR money.

What Role Should Digital PR in Your Japanese Market Entry Strategy?

Before international companies entered Japan has been treated as separate entities. Today though, this is no longer practical because of the world of PR, advertising, and digital marketing that are merging.

Companies still need to understand that good publicity that received millions of daily viewers is still worth striving for. However, there is a greater demand for results of investments in PR.  If you’re a small brand struggling to get started in Japan, you should know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

Agencies are now utilizing different avenues to get your brand’s message to your target audience to prove results. Digital campaigns can be effectively tracked and measured. This shows the exact value of a campaign.

Digital PR strategists are using websites, blogs, SNS, and many others to have real-time results over an increasing and connected digital community. This is not exclusive to traditional PR and media buying on Japanese major broadcasting channels.

In theory, everything should work holistically across any marketing strategy and within the context of the sales funnels. This applies to your brand’s content where it should consider the customer’s experience. 

“Digital PR strategists are using websites, blogs, social networking sites, and many others to have real-time results over an increasing and connected digital community”

Having a large budget allows you to have more choices in PR. So you can justify using the more traditional PR method. Again, this method’s goal is to have your brand reach as many Japanese people in the most popular publication and broadcasting.

Of course, you don’t need a large budget to enter the Japanese market and compete with domestic companies. What you need is a strategic approach and local support so that you are effectively using the right channels.

Smaller brands entering Japan often see digital-first PR and Social & Search PPC as more rewarding since these channels are scalable. This allows them to test the waters and go big when they’re read.


A major reason why PR is still a crucial aspect of succeeding in Japan is the role of online traffic and SEO performance. For online success, digital content with digital PR needs to have quality backlinks.  

Having links from influential websites is a way to improve organic search engine rankings. By publishing high-quality and interesting articles that link back to your brand’s site, digital pr can generate traffic as well as boost ranking on search engine platforms.

To get a feature and have a backlink on a publication, have a list of relevant and popular blog sites or online news platforms to create original content for them. For example, this could be a blog written by your founders or industry expert. Getting picked up from a Japanese site is good as long as you’ve researched the publication audience case. With this, you can get a decent amount of click-through rate to your brand page.

Questions to Ask PR Agencies in Japan

When looking at PR agencies in Japan, here are some questions to make sure you’re receiving the right services and support:

“Ask the PR agency for how will they adapt your messages, research, and content to the local market”
Final Tips: Prioritize Original Content!

Activities backed by unique and newsworthy content will perform the best. It’s important to have a systematic and measurable, this it won’t get you far if you’re not offering something to your potential promoters.