Where Do Young PR Pros Learn the “Basics” in the Startup World?

By Ryosuke Koike
The Hoffman Agency, Tokyo

Whether it’s Japan or the U.S., working in public relations requires a few special skills. Writing a press release, mastering the etiquette of media relations, and managing press conferences are just a few examples. From PR agencies to PR departments at large companies, junior employees can learn from seniors, as well as from the existing expertise within the organization.

However, where do young people in PR working for startup companies learn basic skills?

For example, let’s look at IT ventures. In Japan, there is a trend in which highly motivated students choose to work for IT ventures. These young professionals start off by using Social Networking Services (SNS) such as Facebook for information-gathering and studying purposes. In addition, they proactively use SNS as a media relations tool to engage with journalists, and they create numerous group pages to hold and participate in various PR study groups.

Despite these efforts, the majority of PR study groups mainly focus on native ads and content marketing, which is a reflection of the current state and transition PR and advertising are facing. These are new PR approaches, and it would seem opportunities to simply learn the “basics of PR” are nonexistent.

That’s why the Hoffman Japan team took action. On July 30, HA team member Shingo Nomura served as the lecturer for “The 4th PR Persons Study Meeting — Learning the Basic Fundamentals of PR.” This meeting was held by a Facebook group of young people in PR — including myself. It was a seminar targeted to young PR people who are the lone PR representatives in their companies, either struggling to find advice or “thrown into the woods” without getting a grasp of basic PR. Prior to the day of the meeting, there were over 80 inquiries and about 60 participants, all interested in learning the basics of PR.

Workshops and conferences are a great way for young professionals to grow skills while working in the startup world.

(Seminar Photo: “The 4th PR Persons Study Meeting — Learning the Basic Fundamentals of PR”)

Focusing on the basics, Shingo explained public relations and its basic functions. A few of these topics included the way to effectively gather information and how to act internally and externally with organizations and clients. The lecture also explored how to create news, how to write and distribute press releases, how to coordinate interviews, and lastly, the importance of becoming a good communicator.

The participants were very pleased and active during the Q&A section, and many gathered in line to ask Shingo more questions after the seminar. While some of the topics might seem basic, it helps to create a foundational understanding of PR.

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