Author: Mike Kilroy

Home / Author: Mike Kilroy

My grandmother was born in Ireland in 1892 and lived a full, healthy life until her passing 100 years later.

When she was a kid living in the hills of County Mayo, there were no cars, electricity or airplanes. And if anyone had predicted that her and her siblings would live to see rockets in space with humans onboard someday, the proprietor of the local pub would have cut him off and sent him on his way.

I used to believe I would never see the magnitude of technological change that she saw in her lifetime.  Now I’m not so sure.

Just this month there was this headline: Flying Taxis Draw Some Consumer Support.  The story is about the results of a recent study about the consumer comfort level with autonomous flying taxis.  The reason for the study is because companies like Uber are already testing the technology with a target implementation as early as 2023.

There are of course an endless number of futuristic technologies already here – like virtual assistants, autonomous vehicles and AR/VR – as well as many on the horizon that will likely change society forever.

This rising tide of innovation is being driven by businesses leveraging advanced technologies and new processes to better compete, meet customer expectations and increase profits in a phenomenon collectively known as “digital transformation.”

What exactly is digital transformation?  There are almost as many definitions as there are pundits who are discussing it but here are several we found that may help nail it down:

“Digital transformation involves using digital technologies to remake a process to become more efficient or effective. The idea is to use technology not just to replicate an existing service in a digital form, but to use technology to transform that service into something significantly better.”

 Mark Samuels, ZDNet

“As digital technology evolved, people started generating ideas for using business technology in new ways, and not just to do the old things faster. This is when the idea of digital transformation began to take shape. With new technologies, new things — and new ways of doing them — were suddenly possible.  Digital transformation is changing the way business gets done and, in some cases, creating entirely new classes of businesses. Now we’re firmly entrenched in the digital age, and businesses of all sorts are creating clever, effective and disruptive ways of leveraging technology.”

Mark Edmead, CIO Contributor


“There’s a technological tsunami on the horizon and it’s about to shake every business to its core. This digital transformation will be bigger than any before it and will be on a global scale, transforming customer experiences along with their relationships with those they do business with. This transformation is being driven by seven major elements of the Internet of Things: artificial intelligence (AI), digital voice assistants, smart homes, drones and robots, connected cars, sensors, and virtual and augmented reality.”

                                                                                                                Chuck Martin, Net Future Institute


“Digital technologies enable the development of new or enhanced products and services along with new and better ways to deliver them to customers, along with vastly higher levels of efficiency. More importantly perhaps, they enable fundamentally new ways to organize business. What has emerged is digital transformation, the reinvention of a company – its vision and strategy, organization structure, processes, capabilities, and culture, to match the evolving digital business context.  This transformation, through digital technologies, is not only changing companies but redefining markets and entire industries.”

Vijay Gurbaxani, Director of the Center for Digital Transformation

UCI Paul Merage School of Business


“Love it or hate it, digital transformation is at the center of industry-leading organizations. Digital transformation is not simply a list of IT projects, it involves completely rethinking how an organization uses technology to pursue new revenue streams, products, services, and business models.”

Shawn Fitzgerald, Research Director, Digital Transformation Strategies, IDC

Read more on the topic here Why Communications Is Key to Digital Transformation or contact HKA to learn how we can help.

The entire team at HKA Marketing Communications is excited to announce the revitalization of our technology practice to serve a new generation of emerging tech entrepreneurs in the Digital Transformation era.

HKA has a proud legacy in the technology industry that dates back 20 years. Our clients from that time anticipated many of today’s hottest tech trends, such as commercial satellites, smart manufacturing, bio sensors and advanced medical imaging. Several of our clients saw highly successful investor exits through IPOs and acquisitions by major firms.

Today, innovative startups are offering solutions that are taking advantage of new paradigms enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, 5G wireless networks and other advancements.  These technologies are being used to dramatically enhance the customer experience, maximize efficiencies, reduce costs and improve sustainability for organizations across industries.  Many of these young companies are looking to be heard to secure the right customers, partners, influencers and investors necessary to compete and win.

To that end, HKA appointed Mike Kilroy as Group Director, Technology. Kilroy was an integral part of HKA’s previous technology era and is now leading a team that serves the technology companies that are transforming business and society as we know it.

Why should an emerging tech startup, or larger firms exploring new ventures, consider HKA for its PR and digital marketing needs?

In addition to our technology industry experience, HKA is a well-established and respected agency with 35 years of award-winning business and acclaimed client service.  During its long history, HKA has maintained a diverse client mix, enabling the opportunity to take successful strategies from one industry and applying them in refreshing and innovative ways to new industries.

With offices in Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area, HKA is a highly collaborative agency that ensures senior-level management is directly leading and serving accounts.  The agency culture is also steeped in journalistic best practices and perspectives, with the majority of our staff experienced in the news industry.  HKA knows how to tell a story that resonates with our extensive business/financial, tech and trade media contacts as well as customers and their influencers via social media, blogs, email and other digital marketing mediums.

HKA is fully committed to meeting the communications needs of today’s emerging tech firms throughout their journey.  Please check out us out at or call us at (714) 426-0444 and let us know how we can help.

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!

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.