Business Wire International: Japan

April 14, 2009

Today we continue our series of posts from colleagues outside the US with a look at our operations in Japan, from Atsushi Suzuki, Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire/Tokyo. Previous entries in this series are available from London, Frankfurt, Paris and China.

Business Wire Tokyo is unique in the Business Wire family in several ways, especially how it came to be and how it operates.

We became part of Business Wire when the company acquired its former Japanese affiliate in 2005. (That is when I joined Business Wire, along with the office furniture and equipment!) So we are the only Business Wire office that has firsthand experience being an affiliate before joining the company. To this day, we retain some of those affiliate functions, including distribution of news releases from abroad to Japanese media.

The Tokyo office is one of the few Business Wire offices whose primary language is not English. Many Japanese people have trouble overcoming the language barrier between Japanese and English, and some people are downright allergic to communicating in English. As a provider of primarily English-based services, Tokyo is providing support to Japanese clients in the local language to make our services as accessible as possible.

Business Wire has been committed to localizing its services and accommodating the non-English speaking clients, and the effort has started to bear fruit. BusinessWire.jp was launched in October 2008, providing a more accessible portal to Japanese users. The website provides a basic tutorial on how to write an English press release and a step-by-step guide of the operational and editorial workflow of how releases are processed and distributed via Business Wire’s platform, highlighting the added value of our distribution.

Also, Business Wire’s in-house press release editing software will soon support Japanese and Chinese. This is expected to accelerate our media relations effort in Japan as well as improve the presentation of Japanese press releases at various media outlets.

bwjp

However, language is not the only issue we have to contend with when promoting Business Wire in Japan market, and our struggle to penetrate other barriers is ongoing.

Public relations in Japan is quite different from that of the United States. Just a handful of Japanese companies have dedicated international PR departments, due to heavy emphasis placed on the domestic market. There are also companies that do not release information in English, hoping to contain negative news within Japan, which really is a bad idea in this day and age. All this is changing steadily, albeit slowly, with the increasingly global economy.

In addition, international media characterize the PR efforts of Japanese companies to be “passive” in general. There are a small number of exceptions, but Japanese companies are not known for being good at spin control, and this tendency is magnified when it comes to international PR. Quite a few companies are even reluctant to include contact information in their press releases for fear of inquiries flooding in from journalists abroad.

The media community in Japan is also quite different from western countries. One example is a system called Press Clubs, associations of journalists, which is still quite strong in Japan. The companies go there to physically put their press releases into inboxes to get them to journalists. The big disadvantage of this old-fashioned system is that the journalists tend to pick up only the news from big and prestigious companies. Small/medium-sized companies would need strong connections with journalists to get decent media coverage through this system.

Business Wire Tokyo has had a distribution partnership with Jiji Press, one of the two dominant news agencies in Japan, for almost a decade (counting the affiliate days). Thanks to this partnership, the summarized version of virtually every news release we handle is posted to their website and distributed to Jiji’s news outlets consisting of websites and news portals, financial databases, general-interest and trade-specific newspapers, etc., irrespective of the size or status of the issuing company.

Business Wire’s services are a perfect antidote for respectable Japanese companies suffering from international anonymity, as well as big name companies looking to boost their international presence further. Wire service is still a new concept for most Japanese, and we have been encouraging our prospects and clients to use us in order to actively take control of the information flow and use the media to their advantage to more accurately represent themselves in the international arena.

Now that the average ratio of overseas shareholders among  listed Japanese companies amounts to around 30%, many companies have realized the importance of communicating their corporate messages internationally to improve and maintain their presence in the global market. We see a bright future here in Japan.

Today we continue our series of posts from colleagues outside the US with a look at our operations in Japan, from Atsushi Suzuki, Newsroom Supervisor, Tokyo. Previous entries in this series are available from London, Frankfurt, Paris and China.

Business Wire International: You’re Opening an Office in China Now?

April 3, 2009

Today we continue our series of posts from colleagues outside the US with a look at our operations in China, from Kevin Chiew, Director, Asian Business Development. Previous entries in this series are available from London, Frankfurt and Paris.

This month marks my five year anniversary at Business Wire, and when I was offered the job to head up business development in Asia I was told two things. The first was that I would never be bored, and the second that was my job description was whatever I wanted it to be, as long as it improved the business. No truer words have been said to me, especially in 2009, as we embark on expanding our sales presence in China with our Business Wire licensed affiliate, Interfax China.

In the last five years Business Wire has pursued a multilevel approach to distribution in the Asia region, at the top using the networks of AP and AFP for region-wide distribution — just about every major media organisation in Asia subscribes to either one or both of these feeds. Then, on a country level, we’ve worked with country distribution partners to get country-by-country blanket coverage. Finally, our own NX technology and PressPass services have provided vertical market coverage. We have developed a distribution network that is second to none and which is continually evolving, improving and expanding.

We have been expanding our sales network in the region as well, with offices in Tokyo and Sydney, and sales channels in India (a licensed affiliate), Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and now China (a licensed affiliate).

Business Wire appointed Interfax China as a licensed affiliate of Business Wire, and began operations this month. When we reviewed the China market, it quickly became evident that we needed a strong local partner, who understood the market and had operated there successfully. Interfax China has been operating in China since 1998, and they are the largest commercial foreign news service in China. They understand the local market and have good relationships both in the government and in the business community. Our relationship with Interfax China began two years ago, when they began to disseminate Business Wire press releases into the China market as part of their news service. Interfax China’s network disseminates to more than 9,000 journalists, 600 newspapers, 3,000 magazines and trade publications 300 websites, with guaranteed postings to more than 40 websites for every release.

With such an overwhelming presence, it became obvious that Business Wire and Interfax China would make a powerful force in China. Combining the local support of Interfax China with the global network of Business Wire, as a licensed affiliate, Interfax China would be able to offer the same services and support that any Business Wire office would be able to supply.

But I digress. The title of this piece is, “You’re Opening an Office in China NOW?”

Back in early 2008, when we began to study China, opening offices there was a slam dunk; any business selling anything could justify opening up in China. In 2009, it is a totally different story. The world economy is looking like a train wreck and companies are closing offices, not opening them. So why did we continue to open up in China, when so many others have backed away?

In a word: PERSPECTIVE, which the Oxford dictionary defines as “the understanding of the relative importance of things.”

Despite the world economic gloom you can read in any newspaper in the world at the moment, the fundamentals of doing business in China remain the same:

  • It is the third largest economy in the world, rapidly challenging Japan and even the USA in size.
  • Even the revised growth forecast of the World Bank predicts economic growth of 6.5% in 2009, which would be enviable in any other economy.
  • It has a population of 1.3 Billion people with a growing, educated middle class.
  • It has a strong domestic market, which will be supported by the government stimulus package of some $586 billion dollars.
  • It has foreign exchange reserves of $1.95 trillion, which is predicted to rise to $2.5 trillion by 2010, which means it has a strong buffer against economic down turns.

Although the USA subprime mortgage collapse may have helped lead to the global economic recession, the recovery may well be led by Chinese consumers and investors. The Asian Development Bank, OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and World Bank all predict economic growth to in China for 2010 of some 7.5% to 8.5%.

So as my grandfather, who lived through the last Great Depression and beyond, used to say, “It was a great time to make some money.” If your business wants to catch the next wave of the economic boom, now is the time to establish your business in China.

Business Wire is in for the long haul, as is its affiliate Interfax China. Our PERSPECTIVE is not the next 12 months, but the next 12 years and beyond. When our clients want help on their China strategy, we will be on the ground for them, as we will be on the ground for our China-based clients looking to expand into the rest of the world.

Business Wire is in China — why aren’t you?

Kevin Chiew

Director, Asia Business Development, Business Wire


Business Wire International: France

March 30, 2009

Today we continue our series of posts from our colleagues outside the US, with a look at Business Wire’s experiences in France from Agnes Deleuse, Marketing Specialist.

Challenge, challenge, challenge!

The youngest of all Business Wire European offices, Paris opened its doors in the fall of 2005. Business Wire Paris was thus fully operational when the TOD (Transparency Obligations Directive) was enforced in January 2007. Getting the authorization by the French Market Authority to distribute disclosure information was certainly a decisive factor to attract global companies listed on the CAC40.

Representing an important part of our business, disclosure news distributionwas a good way for companies using our services to discover Business Wire and the many advantages of a newswire service. These companies started to realize they could introduce the wire in their marketing and communications strategy, for Business Wire has so much to offer, from global distribution to industry specific media coverage, multimedia posting, search engine optimization and XBRL formatting.

But too many French companies are still unfamiliar with the wire. There is a long educational process to implement here because French people are sometimes too conservative. Changing their marketing and communications habits to use a wire can be considered a revolution.

However, in the economic turmoil the world is now facing, changing marketing behavior is going to be a necessity. There is therefore a new chance for the wire, and thus for Business Wire. Companies want to continue to communicate but are tied to cost reduction, while print media is on a downward slope. Reaching international press agencies, online services, portals, journalists, investors and various trade communities is so easy with a wire service.

French companies are slowly incorporating this new media concept to cope with the economic environment. In France, we have noticed that our new clients are experimenting with the wire on a one-shot basis to start with. Some have already repeated the experience and we hope that they will continue using Business Wire in the long term. The online visibility and SEO tools are certainly enticing. Companies are adapting to a new situation, and so are we.

Thus, challenge is our daily sport.

But there is a corporate challenge as well: International offices have to face many differences from their counterparts in the United States. Speaking a foreign language is a major one, adapting existing tools from the US market to European customers is another. But so far, so good. European offices are very young and still growing.

But should there be no challenge, there would be no fun. We have to be constantly inventive and creative to go on the lookout for new clients, to find new ways and new words to promote Business Wire, its products and services. The high existing potential is very stimulating and the Business Wire Paris team* is up front to face the challenge.

Agnes Deleuse
Marketing Specialist
Business Wire France

*Business Wire Paris office team (12): a regional manager, a sales manager, two account executives, one CSR, one MRT, one marketing specialist, and a newsroom of five persons.


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