What will decide the future of a specialized trading company after 100 years?

“We have neglected so-called public relations PR” The president of Ryoyo Electro, Mr. Moritaka Nakamura says.

The company was born as a semiconductor sales and trading company in 1961, and now has two business bases of the semiconductor business and the solution business (ICT & IOT).

They welcomed Mr. Nakamura in 2017 as the president of the company, and at about the same time, they began to consult with Network Communications about their public relations that they had been neglecting.

What is necessary for PR is “strategy.”

What is PR? According to the Japan Public Relations Association, PR means “the way of thinking and action to create a desirable relationship between an organization and the people (individuals, groups, society) that surround the organization.” In general, it is often assumed that an organization such as a company transmits some kind of information to society to create a relationship.

“As a company, we have neglected it,” said President Nakamura. “Because the industry of a trading company (which is the business form of Ryoyo Electro) is the man behind the scenes, it may be difficult to gain recognition and understanding as a corporate brand.”

Mr. Nakamura changed such “corporate culture”. “I decided to provide proper communication, including our various business and management thinking, corporate slogans, etc.” However, it was not easy to do. In addition to the conventional information transmission to printed media, “Ryoyo is just a petty IT company”, they tried to revamp the web site first, but the response was poor.

Instead of ad hoc PR, strategic PR was needed. President Nakamura says “it was urgently necessary to have a PR strategy based on a solid understanding of Ryoyo. Not only printing media such as newspapers and magazines but also online media should be used normally. At that time, we needed a “professional” who has know-how on delivering what kind of information and how to combine content and media, and a professional advisor was needed to know how to select media and get publicities as well.” Then, they met Naoko Okada from Network Communications.

How to make a department to be the brain of the president

“Currently, Ryoyo is in the process of reforming the business,” said Nakamura. The establishment of the Marketing Communication Promotion Department, which reports directly to the president, was a part of the process, and he put a woman in charge.

“Network Communications is woman-owned, and our company also has a female manager. We will break down a place where the men’s point of view is entrenched with a team of women with authority.”

These efforts have not only appealed to the outside world, but also to the company. “There are a lot of people in the company who don’t know what they are doing if they are working in a different department,” said Nakamura. It was very effective in two ways: “sending and gathering information inside and out” and “promoting women’s activities and looking at things from women’s point of view.” “Information naturally comes to them, and they send out that information, this flow is important,” he said.

By creating a system for centralized information management and information dissemination, it is also a managerial result that each department has become able to be viewed across the board in terms of information. The fact that there is a marketing department that works in and out of the company is also effective as a presidential staff member. “In fact, it has become very easy to do business.”

It is Network Communications that supported such achievements behind the scenes. External partners tend to yield a step but Network Communications did not. President Nakamura says: “I was struck as a president with several specific, objective and emotional measures, and their dedication. A sense of companionship that goes beyond mere PR advice grown in our company.”

Okada aimed to “realize an in-house-like public relations”. “The more I knew the importance of public relations, the more I thought it would be worthwhile to create a mechanism in the client company,” she thought. “I want to help create an organization that can conduct public relations without  relying on Network Communications.”

Of course, if you work with your client company, as in-house, you must “not hesitate to say something clearly,” president Nakamura said. “That’s also Network Communications. It wasn’t just about dealing with customers or clients, but they said frankly to make things better.”

On the other hand, there is still dissatisfaction inside the company. “We want the sites of each division that provides information to understand the great value of PR well.”

Becoming an organization that considers possibilities!

“Ryoyo Electro is a mountain of treasure,” says Okada of Network Communications. For example, there was a time that Ryoyo got an offer of sponsoring a certain sports league. The amount of money is several tens of millions of yen. “I thought it was difficult,” said Nakamura. “I thought I’d give up this time. I’d wait until we make more profit.”

However, the marketing communication promotion department did not give up. With the lead of a woman who was in charge, they were thinking that “the president may have given up, but it is a good chance for the company.”

“Normally, if the president says no, that is the end. Conversely, people do it only because the president says yes,” Okada says.

“I was surprised. I was moved to know that the company is changing this far,” said Nakamura. Even the senior director of the management headquarters, which seems to be against the cost side, said “It had been that if the president says no, it’s a no, if he says yes, it’s a yes, but let us consider again whether this is actually working or not”

PR to decide Ryoyo after 100 years

At Ryoyo Electro, the next medium-term management plan will begin for three years in February 2019.

In recent years, Europe’s first overseas base opened in Munich, Germany. They have to find new products and advanced technologies in the manufacturing sector, typified by Germany’s major industry, automobile and industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution).

“If Ryoyo cannot succeed in three years, it may be acquired. On the contrary, if our unique presence is released, it will be possible to forecast the next five years, ten years, and 100 years. The future of the company will be almost certainly be decided in these three years.”

Therefore, the meaning of communicating these situations and the value of products and services is essential. “The importance of PR can grow but never diminish.”

Ryoyo is moving towards 2020. “We will have to make preparations in 2019 when the 2020s will be next year, and some will have to start flying in part. Beginning from 2020 is too late. The same thing can be said for PR. I hope the Network Communications will continue to give unrestrained advice so that excellent communication can be made.

In the end, the president Nakamura says, “Ryoyo and Network Communications are also companies that work behind the scene, but it’s nice to be chosen among other companies who do the same. It’s easy to choose but what is important is to be chosen. Leading role is the customer, and I think every business is the same.”

Interview: January 2019