H&K enacts crisis plan after sending unauthorized press release

LOS ANGELES: Hill & Knowlton had to use its crisis-management skills on itself last week after it disseminated a press release that announced a financial transaction by one of its clients had been finalized, when in fact it had not.

LOS ANGELES: Hill & Knowlton had to use its crisis-management skills on itself last week after it disseminated a press release that announced a financial transaction by one of its clients had been finalized, when in fact it had not.

On August 1, H&K sent a release on behalf of NextWave Telecom, a three-year client, announcing the sale of spectrum licenses to Cingular Wireless. However, the sale agreement was still in negotiation between the two, although the media had speculated about it for weeks.

H&K attributed the mistake to an internal failure to follow press-release protocols. "We have a procedure that says you need to get the client to sign off on any written materials that go to the media, and in this case, it just slipped through the cracks," said H&K SVP Paul Clark.

H&K issued a retraction the same day, and accepted full responsibility for the error, but not before some outlets had already run stories using the inaccurate information.

Cingular also distributed a release highlighting the error, but did not comment further.

NextWave spokesman Michael Wack said that his company was satisfied with H&K's response, and planned to continue its AOR relationship for both PR and public affairs.

"They were very up front about it, and very helpful in correcting the error," said Wack. "We've worked with them for several years, and when you judge them on their overall performance, we think there is a lot of value in sticking with them."

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