Author: Mike Kilroy

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It was a nice surprise this past month when it was announced that Tesla, Elon Musk’s premium electric car brand, had acquired Maxwell Technologies, the former defense contractor based in San Diego and makers of an energy storage device called an “ultracapacitor.”

Why the interest?  Because Maxwell Technologies was a key client in HKA’s emerging technology practice back in its early days – somewhere around the turn of the 21st century.

During that time, Maxwell had begun moving away from serving the defense industry and commercializing its various technologies.  If memory serves, its ultracapacitor technology was initially developed to help the Pentagon determine what would happen to electro-magnetic fields in the advent of a nuclear attack.  Yes, you read that right.  During the height of the Cold War, the U.S. military needed to know if its communications equipment would continue to work after a nuclear strike.

Good news for America and the world, the military never had to find out what would happen in a real-world scenario and Maxwell could apply its robust R&D innovations to the market.

And take it to the market we did.  HKA worked closely with Maxwell CEO wunderkind Ken Potashner and his team to promote the company near and far, securing numerous national broadcast and business media coverage, including a three-page spread in Forbes.  We also conducted a highly successful trade media program that helped Maxwell win new customers in the private sector.

Even then, Ken would tout Maxwell’s ultracapacitors as a perfect device for storing energy from braking in electric vehicles and then releasing it quickly during acceleration.  At the time, the EV industry was in its nascent stages and wouldn’t really take off for another 10 years.  But Ken was a visionary and with HKA’s help he was able to get investors to support his dream and set Maxwell Technologies on a successful path in the commercial space.

Through the years, Maxwell sold off its other business units but kept hold of its ultracapacitor tech, likely because it was the financial mainstay of the company.  For a good take on the reasons why Elon and Tesla bought the company, read this article from InsideEVs.

What is the PR lesson to be learned from the Maxwell story?  Some emerging tech, especially categories involving hardware as opposed to software, can take years to reach full maturity.  However, without establishing a solid foundation of brand awareness and credibility early on, a technology’s day might never arrive.  The aggressive PR program HKA and Maxwell conducted set the stage for success.

Congratulations to everyone at Maxwell Technologies!

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The Amazing Story Behind EmergingTechPR

February 28, 2019 | Blog | No Comments

HKA is excited to re-launch its original EmergingTechPR site to provide up-to-date insights, information and key resources for companies seeking to take advantage of the market opportunities in this era of digital transformation.

Why re-launch a site dedicated to PR and marketing for emerging tech companies?  Because HKA firmly believes that a radically new epoch in technology is upon us that will rival anything that came before it.  And we see a need to fulfill the PR and marketing needs for startups providing the advanced technologies that support this new paradigm, as well as the companies large and small delivering unprecedented new services to both consumers and businesses.

But there’s more to the EmergingTechPR site than meets the eye.

The site was originally conceived and launched by HKA wayyyy back in 1999. At the time, HKA was conducting its usual exemplary work for a variety of emerging tech clients, and technology had become the bulk of its business.  To help address the needs of those companies while also marketing the agency’s capabilities, HKA came up with the idea of a separate microsite to offer highly focused information and resources.

The site included static content with topic pages such as EmTechPR 101, PR Lingo and Dynamic Duo (a page on how to best work with your agency).  The site also featured regularly updated sections including a PR Tip of the Week, Top 10 Tips and EmTech Buzz with links to relevant news.

But the real innovation was a section called AdvisorSpeak where expert articles were regularly published and archived by HKA CEO Hilary Kaye and a team of emerging tech company advisors, including venture capital firms, patent attorneys, bankers, management consultants, accountants and more.

Regularly refreshing website content was easier said than done 20 years ago.  WordPress and similar programs that can now easily upload content and manage websites were years away from being invented, much less perfected.  It took considerable resources of time, effort and money to make it happen.  To her credit, Hilary had the vision and determination to make it happen.

How revolutionary was AdvisorSpeak?  As far as we can determine, it was quite possibly one of the first commercial blog sites in the world, if not the first.  If you look at the history of blogging, there were only 23 blogs on the internet in 1999, when the term ‘blog’ was first coined.  They were almost all personal blogs – no businesses that we could find were regularly posting their own articles on their own site.

Hilary maintained the EmTechPR site for several years until her business went in new directions.  However, she always held onto the site in case some day it would make sense to revive.  That day has arrived.

We provide this background on EmTechPR to give you a sense of HKA’s deep roots in the technology industry, and how we share the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of our clients.  Also because, however inadvertently, we too were once an emerging technology company.

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