According to a recent release, Panasonic Energy Corporation of America has chosen KH Advertising of Chester, NJ to promote the introduction of its popular Emergency Light in the United States. The reason behind this move was the onset of the hurricane season in the US.
The press release announcing this fortunate event for KH Advertising came months after the initial agreement between the two companies. On KH’s site, the release is listed September 2009, and so it appears on NJBIZ.com. But an older release, announcing Panasonic’s Emergency Light is dated June 4, 2009 on the Panasonic media pages, where editorial contacts for both KH Advertising and Panasonic are visible atop the press release body.
Further research reveals virtually no media coverage for this product and no social media outreach. The only question that comes to mind is what is KH waiting for? Will they start the PR campaign for this product months later, as they announced the partnership with Panasonic? How should we translate the following statement, from their own press release: “KH Advertising will supply collateral and PR support in the coming months.”? Is PR support reduced to writing press releases for Panasonic? Who distributes these releases then? And what is PR support by KH’s definition after all?
Apparently Panasonic is a KH Advertising customer since 1998 – this can only mean that Panasonic is happy with the services provided by the agency. But all these inconsistencies between press releases, and the absence of coverage for the product KH Advertising was hired to support, raise questions. We can believe that KH is too busy to update their own site – this happens to all of us, although it is hard to imagine that since 1998 they didn’t have time to publish more samples of their work on the site. Some samples of work for Panasonic are available – like package design for Panasonic batteries and a trade ad for Panasonic Industrial Batteries – but the portfolio overall is poor.
The company’s social media engagement is virtually inexistent and this makes me wonder how effective any online campaigns conducted by this company can become. For instance, the press release for October 2009 on KH’s site announces that KH Advertising creates online campaign for new ECG Wireless Inspection Camera. The release continues with the following statements:
The campaign consisting of print and web ads, e-mail blasts and a 3 minute promotional video, is set to break at the end of September and continue for several months. Kirk Hessels, President of KH Advertising states, “This is an exciting launch for a really unique product that is already gaining momentum. The video we created has over 2,000 views on www.youtube.com in the first 10 days alone.” Congratulations (!) Now, at precisely one month after the video below was uploaded on YouTube, the number of views stagnates at 2513.
If you cannot read between the lines, here are the two PR don’ts we learned from KH Advertising:
- Don’t publish a press release months after the fact. It lowers your credibility, it makes you appear sloppy and unprofessional, but what is worse, it potentially sets a negative light over your client. For example: the hurricane season started long ago. Why is Panasonic announcing a product for the “onset” so late?
- Don’t brag about things that are not your skills. YouTube and social media outreach are not KH’s skills. “2000 YouTube views” is a pathetic statement, dust in the eyes of the untrained readers who don’t understand how viral marketing works and what is the real value of a YouTube view.
KH Advertising has strengths, obviously, but PR is not one of them – at least not online PR. New media requires new skills. Having a flashy website and some website designs in the portfolio doesn’t automatically convert you into an online PR expert. KH should advise its customers to seek help elsewhere for online PR campaigns. A revision of KH’s own online presence (vis-à-vis information published via own press releases) is mandatory.
Panasonic has been represented in PR by Peppercomm, Bell Pottinger and Cohn & Wolfe.