Meet: Shimano

Do you own a bike? Then it's also likely you own at least one Shimano part. Shimano is a Japanese cycling, fishing and rowing equipment manufacturer. As you’d expect the company employs many outdoorsy types who try their very best to live the Shimano tagline: Closer to nature, closer to people. Take Ben Hillsdon for example, who moved here from the UK in 2015, and has been working as a PR Officer at Shimano for 3 years.

As a cycling aficionado, Ben loves to ride everywhere and anywhere, although he admits it is sometimes hard to keep his cycling targets up with a busy travel schedule and a young family. Hillsdon: “It’s pretty flat here but I still like to go mountain biking. I also use my bike– like most Dutch people- for commuting. The fun thing about the Netherlands is that you never have to worry much about traffic, all the bike routes make it incredibly safe for cyclists here.”

But enough about cycling. Let’s smoothly transition into how Shimano and have worked together in the past year.

Company Shimano
Industry Leisure products
Size 13.000+ employees
Headquarters Osaka, Japan
Offices in 30+ countries
Shimano interviewee
Ben Hillsdon PR Officer - Shimano Europe Group

Problem: low-tech tools

Over to Hillsdon, Shimano Europe's PR Officer, in his own words:

“Some of our PR tools were low-tech when I started at Shimano. I felt our way of communicating didn’t give me the flexibility I was looking for. The structure of our business means we need to share press releases to our partners prior to a product launch or event. We used to send Word documents but this doesn’t give us the opportunity to easily change anything – if needed - when we’d already sent information out. Also, we couldn’t put in as many photos as we wanted otherwise the file would be too big or journalists wouldn’t open it. Plus, in terms of our actual mail outs to the press you can’t see who’s opened a Word doc once you send it. And of course: Word can look kind of clumsy.”

Solution:'s media kit

“Using we can update a media kit on the go. So, if we have a product launch and there are initially only studio photos available, we can easily add the action shots later. Journalists can also get the main product photos straight from the news story. It just removes one extra action that you don’t want to give journalists who can be low on time and attention.

We work very internationally with lots of different distributors. So, we love the way we can use to have press releases per country and per region. Every time there is a press release we use the drop-down menu, select a press contact and if it’s relevant we translate it to the right language. It gets translated in German, French, Dutch and Italian. Whatever our distributor thinks necessary. This way we can pre-select what is relevant for our different contacts.

What I also think really helped us out when using is that we started to personalise emails. I believe that made a big change for us. We try to create more exclusive content. We give journalists a password for some limited information. So, it becomes more exclusive and special, which is a general trend in marketing and communication these days.

For example, we built a media list and gave semi-exclusive information to journalists that enquired about a story that had cropped up. They had relatively exclusive information that made them keener to write our side of the story.”

Results: A sharper Shimano

“The amount of responses we got definitely improved after we started using What I see happening is that we definitely have more journalists getting in touch, asking us questions to create a more unique story. I get many more people replying to a news release when I personalise it because it looks like a one-to-one email.

“What I see happening is that we definitely have more journalists getting in touch, asking us questions to create a more unique story.”

— Ben Hillsdon, PR Officer at Shimano Europe Group

I think that has to do with the layout of the emails. When I use it looks like I’m giving a personal heads-up. It’s a personalised email that comes from me personally, so it’s much more likely to get opened than a newsletter. I pre-select the people I want to send this email to.”

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