Tokyo, December 21 ― The Public Relations Society of Japan (PRSJ) has chosen Dentsu Public Relations Inc. as the 2012 recipient of its Grand Prix, Japan’s foremost public relations award. The win is Dentsu PR’s second in a row and fifth in total for the agency.

This year, Dentsu PR was honored for a campaign implemented to improve the PR skills of the Japanese Red Cross Society’s 60,000 employees, aimed at strengthening the organization’s internal and external communication capability. Undertaken by Dentsu PR’s Communication Design Division, the project was among the top seven entries from a field of 23 recognized at the 2012 PRSJ Grand Prix award ceremony held on December 6 in Roppongi, Tokyo. The PRSJ inaugurated the Grand Prix awards in 2001.

“I am delighted that we could receive the Grand Prix for the second consecutive year,” said Takehiko Chikami, President and CEO of Dentsu PR. “We place great importance in using PR for ‘serving the public good,’ and will continue to devote ourselves to providing the best quality consulting service and solutions.”

The project, named “Cross Communication – a PR campaign for the Japanese Red Cross Society”, harnessed the communication skills of the Society’s staff so successfully that when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in March 2011 the Society was at the vanguard of disseminating news of the disaster and, more importantly, about how the relief effort swung swiftly into action.

Kenji Hanaue, Chief of the Communication Design Division responsible for the winning project, commented: “The PR activities of the Japanese Red Cross, carried out on a limited budget, above all originate from the PR skills of each of the organization’s 60,000 staff. What I felt strongly from this project was that ‘corporate communications originate from within organizations.’”


Outline of the 2012 PRSJ Grand Prix winning project

Project Name: “Cross Communication – a PR campaign for the Japanese Red Cross Society”
Entry Category: Corporate Communications
Client: Japanese Red Cross Society
Project Personnel:
Dentsu Public Relations Inc.

–       Kenji Hanaue, Executive Project Manager, Communication Design Division
–       Yuriko Kano, PR Director
–       Takeshi Okuma, Project Manager, Business Promotion Department
–       Manabu Yamashita, Senior Consultant, Account Services Division



The Japanese Red Cross Society was founded in 1877, since which time it has been expanding its activities, providing such services as disaster relief, establishing hospitals and blood donation. A survey of the public and employees found the strength of its PR to be an issue, which prompted the launch of a campaign for the Japanese Red Cross Society in September 2007, to boost the PR capabilities of the Society’s over 60,000 staff.

Through seminars and other means, staff members’ communication sense and skills were enhanced, resulting in a higher number of successes. Subsequently, the awards were established in 2008 to recognize the most outstanding cases, with the practices and knowhow from such cases shared amongst the organization to much educational benefit.

When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, on March 11, 2011, video of the immediate aftermath was captured at the Red Cross hospital in Ishinomaki, a coastal city in northern Japan which was one of the places most seriously affected by the disaster. Showing how the hospital’s doctors and nurses responded calmly and diligently to the crisis, the video eventually got over 60,000 views on YouTube. A book, “100 days in Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital,” was subsequently published and was on its sixth reprint as of February 2012.

By coincidence, just one week before the earthquake this same hospital had been awarded a silver prize in an internal PR awards scheme launched through the campaign, and was actively strengthening its PR capability. When the medical relief teams arrived from around the country, the hospital’s staff encouraged them to cooperate positively with the media and everyone continued to communicate information about the situation in the disaster area in the spirit of the Society’s reinvigorated PR philosophy, for example making the hospital’s daily meetings open to the media. As one journalist who was there at the time reflected, “Even amongst all the chaos, the Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital really took on the role of the media in gathering coverage. As a result, we were able to convey the situation in the disaster area to the whole world.”

The effects also spread beyond Ishinomaki when the relief teams, having received support from across the country, held press conferences after returning to their local regions. In this way, they not only saved lives through medical aid, but actively contributed to extending the support network through communication.

What’s more, beyond Japan, PR staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross coordinated with their counterparts in the Japanese Red Cross to gather coverage of the disaster area situation, conveying information to the Red Cross network covering 186 countries. There was also a flood of coverage on the Japanese Red Cross from overseas media including The New York Times, CNN and BBC. Early on, the term “Japanese Red Cross” featured across a total of 8,603 media outlets in one 24-hour period.

The corporate slogan “It is people who save people” was born out of the activities of the campaign, and this message really resonated with many staff members following the 3/11 disaster, as they testified in internal newsletters and elsewhere. Its words seemed to ignite a renewed pride in working for the Red Cross, and a sense of togetherness within the organization. The story is even introduced in three current junior high school (middle school) Japanese textbooks in Japan, and the project is advancing on a national level.


About Dentsu Public Relations Inc.

Dentsu Public Relations Inc., a pioneer in the field in Japan, has been helping Japanese and foreign clients communicate with their critical stakeholders – namely consumers, governments, investors, employees and communities – for 50 years since its inauguration in 1961. Providing a comprehensive range of communication services, Dentsu PR is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dentsu Inc. Dentsu PR is headquartered in Tokyo with a branch in Osaka and is ISO 14001:2004 and ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certified.