Take pity on us journalists. I tried to reach Toshiba’s PR handlers in Asia this morning. It’s not easy. Their Japanese site has a webpage which contains press releases but none of those releases contained contact numbers, names or emails. (How are we expected to ask follow up questions if there’s no contact number? A press release is not the end of the story, at least for a journalist who does his job properly.) Their regional webpage takes you to the same site.
Nowhere else on the website could I find any sort of contact that could be described as PR. The contact us webpage contains all sorts of exciting links, but nothing that could be described as a PR department. There’s a ‘non-product enquiry’ page which requires you fill in a form, but no names, no phone numbers, nothing that might help a journalist get a question answered.
Then I had an idea: Benjamin, a unit of Weber Shandwick, the PR agency, handles Toshiba in the U.S., so perhaps Weber Shandwick’s regional office in Hong Kong might know. Er, no. Nothing so far.
Eventually I picked up the phone and called their headquarters. A very helpful woman answered the phone, took down my details and then played me some rather soothing tinkly music (several times, I couldn’t help noticing) before telling me the whole PR department had gone for lunch (it being, after several rounds of tinkly music, 12.03 pm.) So I was told to call back ‘after lunch’.
Why is it easier to reach a small company than it is to reach a big one? Why issue a press release without any contact details on it? Why hire big PR companies to handle your PR but not actually let journalists know who those PR companies are, and how we can reach them?
Yuck. I’m going to have to call back Toshiba Japan just to soothe myself with some more tinkly music.