The William Adams Club
A lesson in history and how to get in the press
The William Adams Club (WAC) is an NPO founded in 2015 and dedicated to the first Englishman to land in Japan. Adams (1564–1620) arrived in 1600, later becoming a samurai and jointly negotiating the first Japan–Britain diplomatic and trade agreement in 1613.
When WAC wanted advice on how to promote the incredible discovery of Adams’ grave and remains in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture, they approached Custom Media because of our unrivaled bilingual and multi-media capabilities such as printed and digital publications, high-profile video platform, and wide global network.
We edited and designed a lengthy background piece by WAC founder and President Robin Maynard MBE about Adams and featured the subject in several issues of BCCJ ACUMEN, the official magazine we have published for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan since 2009. We also coached and interviewed WAC member and Adams expert Professor Richard Irving for a fascinating video published on our In Japan TV website.
WAC targeted May 16, 2020—the 400th anniversary of Adams’ death—as the day to announce that his remains had been identified. We created a detailed and concise press release, commissioned an artist to paint a unique portrait of Adams to help attract busy news editors and readers, and selected newspapers from our extensive global network that we thought would be most likely to be interested in this story.
WAC requested the story be offered first to The Daily Telegraph national broadsheet newspaper. We strictly embargoed the piece until May 16; as soon as the paper published it as the top story on one of its foreign news pages, we released it via our partners at the UK’s biggest independent news agency to the Mail Online (the world’s most-read newspaper website), which splashed it over two pages, and The Sunday Times (UK’s largest-selling “quality press” national paper). A Tokyo radio station also requested us to arrange an interview with Maynard.
Custom Media Publisher Simon Farrell said: “This was one of our most pleasing pro bono jobs because it felt like we were helping make history while further cementing UK-Japan cultural ties and bilateral understanding.”
Thanks to Custom Media, the coverage was achieved in three key national newspapers in print and online. Email responses ranged from a lady pensioner running a history club in Gillingham to the partner of a firm of architects in the USA. On behalf of both the WAC committee and all members, I extend appreciation to our retained media consultants for holding our hands in a specialized field where we have little knowledge or ability.