Mitsushige Tsuruno wears many hats—PR and social media expert, executive director at Public Relations Society of Japan, instructor in communications, marketing and presentation skills, and last but not least, the best-selling author of more than 20 books on communication skills, personal/professional productivity, human relations and so on.
Born in Osaka, Tsuruno founded his own company, Beanstar, in 2005, after working with Sony Corp.
GaijinPot, together with Japan Today editor Chris Betros visits Tsuruno at his office in Takanawa to hear more.
What is your background?
I was born in Osaka and went to Tsukuba University. During that time, I took a 2-year leave and got a Foreign Ministry contract job at the Japanese Embassy in London for two years. After London, I came back and finished university. Then I went to Columbia University in New York for two years and earned a Master’s degree. I was with public relations at Sony, then moved to their business development and strategy division. I decided to move on in February 2005. That’s when I started Beanstar.
I started Beanstar originally as an educational company focusing on communications because my background is PR and communications psychology. Then it evolved into corporate communications training and executive training. In recent years, our services have extended to helping clients use social media effectively for marketing and communications. Basically, I train top executives to make media presentations, by helping them to improve their communication skills. I also develop educational programs and materials for educational institutions.
Who are your clients?
Most are company executives and experts such as medical doctors and lawyers who come to me through introductions and networking. When I joined Sony 11 years ago, I started monthly events for industry experts and that has been a good networking resource for me. We still do those gatherings on the first Monday of every month.
What is the most important thing you teach clients?
It’s reactions, or results if you like. When I advise effective communications for our clients, I always tell them to look at the reactions they receive after the communications. They often look at how they deliver their message or if the message was clearly understood. But those are less important than what happens next. Communications is not a purpose but a means.
Top executives have to speak before many people on various occasions. Frankly, some are just not good at speaking in front of many people. I teach them how to deliver the message and craft their presentations overall to receive the expected reactions.
Another thing is that speed is most important in good communications. Present your information quickly. Too many executives are too slow to tackle their problems. If you have to give a press conference, make it short and get the point across.
Which Japanese business leaders do you think have good communications skills? What about politicians?
I think Masayoshi Son has good communications skills. He has a backbone. I don’t think Prime Minister Kan is necessarily a bad communicator in terms of how to deliver his thoughts. We haven’t had “strong” leaders for a while. By that, I mean political leaders who can simply maintain their position and carry out what they said they would do. From a communications point of view, first ladies are often more interesting than prime ministers. For example, Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was very weak but his wife was good as a communicator.
How many clients do you deal with a month?
I can handle 20 to 30 clients a month. Some of them hire me on a retainer basis for one or two years.
How has business been?
We have achieved 30% sales growth for 5 years in a row. This year will be tough because of the earthquake. Our business is heavily dependent on events. I am invited to many events and organize events for the marketing communications industry, such as conferences. As a result of the quake, many events got postponed or canceled.
In the field of social media, does Japan lag behind the U.S., for example?
Japan is a little behind in some areas but in other areas, such as live webcasting—Nico Nico Douga (Japan’s leading online video community site), for example—Japan is about same as the U.S.
What do you think of Twitter as a marketing tool?
Twitter is fast becoming a strong marketing tool and means for disseminating information, outpacing Facebook which is still mainly for friends. I am on Twitter and Facebook every day, but I find Twitter much better for meeting new people and contacts. Although I use Twitter frequently, it is still an experiment for me—what I tweet and what sort of reactions I get.
Are you optimistic for Japan’s future?
I have to be because I am an entrepreneur. There are always opportunities, but you need to be energetic to explore new possibilities and opportunities. Now is a big time of change for everyone.
What is your daily schedule?
I work pretty much 7 days a week. On weekends, I am usually giving a lecture or writing a book. My latest book is about effective work styles, how to cut corners – but I don’t mean that in the Western sense of the word, but how to be more strategic. I have written a book every 2-3 months. I have been busy writing since one of my books called “Atama-no-ii-setsumei, sugu-dekiru-kotsu” sold more than 220,000 copies a few years ago.
How do you like to relax?
I have two daughters, and play with them on weekends.