Cannes Lions

Crisis Communications Capability Survey


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In order to demonstrate the failings in the crisis-management capabilities of firms in Japan, and discern appropriate countermeasures, we set out to conduct an extensive survey of some of the biggest corporations¬¬—both domestic and international—with operations in Japan. However, due to the sensitive nature of data relating to crisis management, it was not easy to secure the cooperation of companies. To overcome this obstacle, we teamed up with the Center for Integrated Disaster Information Research at The University of Tokyo to take our investigation public. The data obtained from this survey was vital to our efforts to identify measures to improve the crisis-management capabilities of businesses, and provided the basis for the development of a simple diagnostic kit to enable firms to assess their own failings in this area. We also launched a campaign offering assessment of companies’ risk-management capabilities free of charge.


From February to March 2015, with the cooperation of the Center for Integrated Disaster Information Research at The University of Tokyo, questionnaires were sent to almost 3000 companies in Japan, of which 392 provided a response. Analysis of these results revealed that many Japanese firms have a deficiency when it comes to gathering intelligence, especially of the sort that would enable them to anticipate and prevent crises. These findings were an illustration that, as well as the information delivery, pre-crisis intelligence gathering is itself a vital aspect of crisis management. The analysis also formed the basis for the development of a simple diagnostic kit to enable firms to evaluate their own weaknesses in this area, as well as for the launch of a campaign offering assessment of firms’ crisis-management capabilities free of charge. It was through such means that we aimed to curb the incidence of corporate crises in Japan.


The impact of these findings was profound. We held seminars to discuss the results at both The University of Tokyo, Japan’s most respected national institution of higher learning, and the Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs, operated by Keidanren, the nation’s premier economic federation. In all, we held six seminars with a total of 650 attendees. Overall, the campaign won widespread praise from opinion leaders in the field of crisis management, as well as the businesses themselves, many of which reported that our diagnostic kit and evaluation had been incredibly useful in strengthening their own crisis-management capabilities. Survey results were publicized in 15 media including The Nikkei Shimbun. Mamoru Kobayakawa, emeritus professor at Hokkaido University, commented on the survey’s “significant findings,” adding: “Japan’s PR sector has never before seen an investigation of this scale into crisis management.”

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