H&K holds on to account after blunder

Los Angeles: Wireless technology firm NextWave Telecom this week insisted that it would continue to retain Hill & Knowlton as its US agency of record, despite a blunder that saw the agency disseminate a press release announcing that a NextWave financial transaction had been finalised when it had not.

NextWave spokesman Michael Wack said his company was satisfied with H&K’s response to the mistake, for which the agency accept-ed full responsibility, and would continue its three-year AOR relationship for PR and public affairs.

On 1 August, H&K sent a press release on behalf of its three-year client, announcing the sale of spectrum licenses to Cingular Wireless.

However, the sale agreement – about which the US media had speculated for weeks – remained in the final stages of negotiation.

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, the press release just slipped through the cracks,’ said Washington-based H&K senior vice-president Paul Clark.

The agency quickly issued a retraction the same day but not before some outlets had already run stories using the inaccurate information.

Cingular distributed a release highlighting the error, but made no further comment.

An agreement between the two companies, by which Cingular plans to buy licences from NextWave to provide wireless services in 34 markets for almost £900m, was eventually announced on 5 August.

NextWave voluntarily filed for bankruptcy reorganisation in June 1998.

The company was formed in 1995 and provides broadband wireless services to consumers and businesses.

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