Praise for crisis communication, Japanese style

It is not common for Western PR practitioners to secure insight into Japanese domestic PR, particularly in an area as sensitive as crisis communication.

While the Fukushima nuclear disaster has focused western eyes on the terrible long-term impacts of the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami, practitioner Takashi Kurosawa has provided a rare Japanese perspective on how it is being handled.

In a blog translated on the website Global Voice, Kurosawa commented on the Japanese national admiration for Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, whose repeated appearances in the media came to personify the crisis.

“One important factor in the field of PR is risk management communications during an emergency situation,” Kurusawa wrote.  “This is because a mishandling of the situation would lead to antagonizing not only the customers but also society as a whole. Edano’s attitude has been exemplary from this perspective, and I have listed below the reasons why that is so.”

1. Speaks clearly, slowly and pauses between paragraphs

2. Doesn’t read out from a script and speaks in his own words instead.

3. When pointing to a journalist to ask a question, he answers looking at him/her straight in the eye.

4. Doesn’t deny possibilities (such as that of leakage of radiation) and accepts them as “possible”.

5. For factors that require expert knowledge, he first explains so but also voices his own opinion.

6. Repeatedly goes over points that might lead to misunderstanding. 

7. Clearly articulates the issues that are of the greatest interest to the audience, namely the possible impacts of radiation on the human body. (Not only in terms of figures, but also about the fact that the time of exposure influences the overall impact.)

8. Doesn’t give evasive answers and instead answers as well as possible within the scope of the available facts.

9. Always appears as the spokesman.

10. Gives concrete examples for what each citizen can do to contribute to the situation (conserve energy, don’t send out chain e-mails, don’t hoard, etc.)

About managingoutcomes

Issue and crisis management expert
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