The Day in the Life of a Public Relations Consultant

The Day in the Life of a Public Relations Consultant 

Are you interested in public relations (PR) work and/or want to learn more about what exactly a PR consultant does? Jordan has been a PR consultant since June 2019 and was willing to share his experience. Jordan completed his undergrad at University of Michigan in 2016, majored in International Studies with a focus on East Asia and a minor in Asian Studies with a focus on Japan. He then moved to Tokyo to attend graduate school at Waseda University, then attended a year long language fellowship program at the Inter-University Center (IUC) in Yokohama. After the IUC program, Jordan took an interest in PR and even though he says it isn’t his greatest passion, he enjoys what he does and finds it interesting.   

Give me a brief explanation of your job role & what your company does

Even though we’re a PR firm, we’re also a corporate communications firm. Our company is like half Japanese staff and half foreign staff, and everyone speaks both English and Japanese. A simple way to explain what we do is that we have both Japanese and foreign clients and say if it’s a Japanese client, we are typically handling their PR. If it’s a Japanese client, we’re typically helping them with things like translating their website or setting up a press conference with English speaking journalists and whatever they need us to help with that has to do with their international business. Now if it’s a foreign client, which we have plenty of as well, we’re typically helping them with all of their Japan PR needs. If they have employees in Japan, we’ll work with them but a lot of times they have no one. So we just effectively become their Japanese eyes and ears, we’re doing a lot of the same things for them—we could be setting up press conferences for them or helping with new services in Japan like media monitoring. We’ll basically use media monitoring tools to track all of the mentions of a client—like if they want to know what’s being said about them on papers, online articles, and TV shows, then translate it in like a summary report.

We’ll also make sure we’re media monitoring on the hour, we’re constantly advising them on what they need to say to Japanese journalists, especially with foreign clients who don’t really understand certain Japanese mannerisms, etiquette, and culture. 


Sometimes our work is short term, like project based, but ideally is long term—that’s what we call a retainer, where they’re sort of paying us a set rate over the course of however many months or years they’ve agreed to and we just sort of handle all their PR needs during that time. We also set up events which have been almost exclusively online, during the pandemic and we also help with crisis management. If a Japanese or a foreign client is having some sort of PR crisis, maybe it’s come out that one of their products is defective or they’ve been involved in a scandal or something like that—we will go into sort of crisis mode for them. Which ideally doesn’t happen too often—we don’t like to represent people we don’t think are doing honorable business and we do turn down certain clients who we don’t know if it’s like a good match in terms of what they do.

Our CEO likes to use the term “Japan experts”— I don’t know if I necessarily call myself a Japan expert but the cultural expertise definitely plays a role

What’s a typical day for you like? 

For the last year, my typical day has been—I’ll wake up, I’ll do my morning work before I break for anything else then have lunch, exercise. I’m kind of like an exercise maniac or whatever you want to call it—almost every day after I finish that morning work I go out and I work out. For a lot of the pandemic, I’ve done that outside but more recently, I’ve been able to actually use a community gym which doesn’t get too crowded and people keep their masks on. My biggest passion in life is Brazilian jiu jitsu but I haven’t really been able to train almost at all during the pandemic—but I found ways to stay in shape outside and in my apartment. In the evening, maybe I’ll go ride my bike or go for a run again to try to get more exercise in then have dinner. Then watch Netflix, whatever it might be—it’s pretty much a general routine. 

What skills do you find to be vital in your industry?

I don’t know how unique this is to PR but I think attention to detail is pretty big. It honestly really bothers me when you have to work with people who don’t seem to really try to get to the finer points of what a client needs and having to be told what to do all the time is not good. That’s something that I think I had to improve at as well, it’s better if you can sort of read a situation, or get to a place where you can read a situation as quickly as possible. Finding what’s going to benefit your client and figure things out and make proposals before they or anyone else have to spell it out for you.

Communication is big too, not just with coworkers but obviously with the client. The company I work for has a super flexible work culture, I’m very appreciative of that. One caveat is that, when you are involved in a little bit more of a high maintenance project or account with a client, whether it’s a short term project or a long term retainer, you’re gonna have to do some things sometimes—like get on a late or an early call, maybe work a little extra. Luckily, I’m at a company where, if you’re working a bunch of overtime, because there’s like a big project going on—our CEO wants that to be recognized and you get some time off as compensation. You have to be willing to put the work in when it’s really critical. But that just depends on your preference and on finding a company that you fit with.

What challenges do you face at work?

The most major challenges usually come from the clients themselves, whatever they need us to do for them—we generally don’t accept the job unless we really think we can help them. That’s actually one difference between a boutique firm like the one I work for, where we only have like 20 to 25 people on our staff. It’s really like a specialized firm, versus maybe like a bigger global, more corporate PR firm, where they have huge staffs. Corporate firms take on bigger clients on average and we do as well for our firm size but these bigger corporate PR firms have like bases all across the world. It’s also a little bit more of a culture where they’re willing to take whatever work and they’ll make promises that they can’t necessarily keep sometimes. One thing I like about how selective our firm is, we really don’t take on a client unless we think we can help them.

Sometimes the client becomes even more demanding or increasingly more stubborn about things over the course of a relationship—so sometimes you have to manage some tempers. 

But every client is different and there’s a range of challenges we might face in any given day—it just depends on what accounts you’re currently working on. 

What has been more valuable in your career—your education or your experience?

That’s a hard one because I wouldn’t be able to get the job that I currently have if it weren’t for my Japanese language education at the very least. Other things like my graduate degree and even my studies back as an undergrad like that had to do with Japan, those were all helping factors at least in terms of like making my resume—to sell the idea that I understand Japan to some extent and also just helping me actually understand Japan to some extent. I think education is an absolutely vital factor—I wouldn’t have been able to get the job without it. But a lot of the stuff I studied in grad school and undergrad doesn’t actually come into play very often. So I guess in that sense, the experience is crucial too because it’s more about just your ability to understand certain cultural things, communicate with people, not just in terms of knowing the language in a textbook sense but knowing how to interact with both foreign and Japanese people as a part of the job. It’s kind of hard to parse those two out—I’d say both are crucial.

What is your process when making decisions at work? 

I think it really just depends on what kind of decision making we’re talking about. I can say one thing, one thing that comes into play a lot is deciding how to tell a client certain things—we try to be totally honest and helpful in all ways but more on how to phrase things to clients. Another big part of the job for a lot of clients is getting coverage in Japan—there is this thing called ‘kisha kankei’ which is like relationships with journalists. We have a lot of these relationships that have been built up over the years between both individual members of the company and the company itself. We use these relationships to try and basically market some of our clients, especially in terms of marketing foreign clients, to Japanese journalists and Japanese media to try and get them coverage. So we contact writers at newspapers that we have relationships with and we try to get them to read an article based on a press release that we’ve helped translate and distribute within Japan.

We have to try to mold those expectations—to fit what we’re realistically going to be able to do for them in Japan.


A lot of times when we sign a contract with a client, they might actually want to spell it out in quantitative terms—like for this six month contract we’ve got certain targets you need to get hit. For example, we’ve got these things called deliverables and that means we want like six press releases distributed over six months, we want at least four one-on-one interviews with our CEO and Japanese journalists, we want like a bylined article in a trade magazine, etc.—and sometimes, clients expectations are just not realistic. We have to try to mold those expectations—to fit what we’re realistically going to be able to do for them in Japan.

From the start, as soon as they send us a request for approval and some sort of business proposal to start working together, we have to work on shaping their expectations from the very beginning of the relationship. So depending on the client’s needs sometimes we have to direct our attention and effort for something else like a bigger announcement down the line or have interviews, etc. 

What is the best part of your job? 

Honestly the best part of my job is to be at a company that has such a good culture where I really feel like I’m not being made to overwork. If there’s ever times where I just do because of client needs—that’s being respected and recognized and then I’m being compensated for it somehow.

If I had to say something that’s a little bit more inherent to like the industry, I would say it’s just that we get to do so many different things with so many different kinds of clients—so it doesn’t feel very routine. Of course certain parts of it get monotonous, like I have to do certain media monitoring reports for the same clients like every day, but even then there’s enough new stuff every day and every month such as new clients popping up new products.

I’d say in terms of the company, my favorite thing is the great culture in terms of the industry. My favorite thing is, there’s always something new happening.

There is also the fact that I get to use my cultural and linguistic knowledge and expertise. It just feels like the things that I spent time studying before I got the job up are coming into play. At the very least the time that I’ve spent here, the energy and effort I’ve put into learning the language like I’d be sad if I for some reason was not able to continue using their skills.

Are there any mistakes that you made early in your career that you’d like to address?

Well in my first like six months or so at my company, when we were still going to the office every day before the pandemic—I think I was a hard worker and I was doing my reasonable best to get used to the job and get better and faster at everything from the beginning. But I was never someone who was like dying to go to an office and have to sit there, eight to nine hours a day, five days a week—so I think I was leaving the office very quickly once it hit 6pm. I was doing that almost every day until someone said something to me about it and because even though you know, we’re not expected to necessarily stay and work overtime, I was very clearly making a point to leave right at 6pm every single day. I guess there were some days where I even left like a minute or two early and one of my superiors noticed that and just kind of said something about it one day. Even though I feel like I’m putting in my reasonable best effort while I’m here, I don’t want to give off the impression that I hate the job or something. So I want to repay the flexibility I’ve been granted in so many other ways by maybe making a little bit more of an effort to show that I’m committed.

I think since I was talked to by someone about it, it hasn’t really been an issue at all. I think I’ve gotten even better at just sort of naturally learning to do the things that really show people that you’re committed to the work. It hasn’t required me putting in any real significant extra effort and it’s not like I was suddenly being asked to work more, or being told suddenly that the flexibility I thought I had is real—it’s just that I was kind of maybe taking it just a little bit for granted.

Now it’s like, almost two years later and I still feel like the company culture is great, flexible—at least during work from home I’m able to go out and work out like twice a day, even on most days. I think it’s just like, you got to get the work that needs to be done and then how you use the rest of your time is totally up to you. I guess my mistake would have been that I didn’t really take seriously, how flexible the culture was and how lucky I was to be at the company.

What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?

If we’re talking about PR, I would just say figure out what kind of PR you want to do. There’s big differences between working for smaller boutique firms that are kind of more niche and specialized. Like our specialty is just the whole, like bilingual Japan, international staff thing, like everyone’s either Japanese or foreign but everyone speaks both Japanese and English. There’s other firms that are specialized in other ways—there are PR firms who specifically handle clients from certain industries. I’m sure there are like financially specialized PR firms and then there’s big firms like, ‘Weber Shandwick’ or ‘APCO Worldwide’ and things like that where they’ve got offices all across the world—and there it’s a mixed bag. So figure out what exactly about PR interests you and then try to find whatever corner of the industry seems like it could be a realistic goal. 

Do whatever you can to tailor your skill set and your experience to be able to thrive in that industry and get a job in that industry. PR is a specific industry but it’s quite a large category as well and there are a lot of different kinds of PR. There’s even government PR, like government relations, definitely a lot of specialized firms for that. There’s PR for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and NPOs (non-profit organizations)—there’s so many different kinds of PR work. 

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