Man recording his activities by writing in a journal.

By Shingo Nomura
The Hoffman Agency

The Washington Post’s recent article, “Why the PR industry is Sucking Up Pulitzer Winners,” published on April 20, caught my eye.

The article discusses two Pulitzer winners who left their mid-sized regional newspapers to pursue careers in PR. It also points out that financial restraints have forced many local journalists to leave the newsrooms, and these signs point to the collapse of regional news outlets in general. However, the number of journalist jobs has increased in big cities such as Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

Is it the same situation in Japan?

To answer the question, I did some research about the Japanese media industry. On the whole, the salaries of media professionals are higher than those in other industries, including PR, as noted in the chart below. According to Nensyu Labo’s statistics the average annual salary in 2013 for all newspaper companies was 8,460,000 yen (about $70,000 in the U.S.), with the average employee’s age was 36 years old.

(Nensyu Labo: http://nensyu-labo.com/syokugyou_kisya.htm)

We do not have specific data of the differences between cities and regional areas in Japan. However, we estimate that local newspaper salaries are almost 50-60 percent of those at the national dailies.

While there isn’t specific data on in-house PR positions, we can guess what it might be. Looking at Nensyu Labo’s data, the average annual salary for the two largest PR firms is about 5,600,000 yen (or $46,000 U.S. dollars). The average age of these companies is 37 years old.

As you can see, the salary for journalists is still higher. However, on the whole, media companies are financially stronger than most PR firms and businesses in general.

So, will the media industry be stable in the future? Probably not. Although the Japan media landscape has been changing steadily, the current business growth rate does not match what it was in the past decade.

In the last three years, the growth rates for advertising revenue in newspapers and print magazines have been -1.8 and 0 percent, respectively, while online advertising revenue has grown by 12 percent in the last year alone.

So what will happen to the media industry in Japan? During the last 20 years, technology has disrupted the exiting media business environment. Mass media is no longer the major content producer. Companies, organizations and even individuals can distribute their news and content all over the world … almost instantly.

Print media is no longer the primary content medium either. These days, we read more articles on mobile devices and social networking sites. According to the Nielsen research conducted in 2014, the number of users for news curation apps doubled in the first 10 months of the year. The total number of users for popular news apps exceeds 10 million.

Many PR professionals still rely strongly on media relationships. But, under these circumstances, how do we change or improve our jobs? I believe that one of the areas we should focus on to improve these relationships is the storytelling approach. Audiences are always looking for compelling stories, and PR professionals can secure top placements with just the right storytelling techniques. Content creation also offers a major opportunity for those working in the PR industry.

PR professionals should explore Internet technologies such as SEO, social media, content delivery methods and mobile apps. The Internet has changed the way our communications work and has created a new communications infrastructure. We cannot neglect it and should fully utilize technology to resolve clients’ business and communications challenges.

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