The world of PR remains mystifying to Gary Steel.
EVERY DAY A dozen or more puff pieces arrive in my email in-tray from PR companies, most of which get shoved right where they belong, in the folder I have christened ‘PR Crap’.
Sometimes, they’re actually useful. They might alert me to the release date of a new product, or trumpet the unique qualities of said product. If they’re really clever, they remember to quote the expected retail price of the product being promoted. More often than not, they make outrageous claims. Generally, they claim firsts and, increasingly in the technology realm, smallest status.
It seems that only in tech land is smaller better.
Every now and then, however, a press release is conceptualised, written, approved and sent off to media that maybe should have just kept its wraps on until it had a genuine idea.
LG’s latest media niblet, titled ‘LG Will Become Leading TV And Whitegoods Brand In New Zealand’, is like that.
It turns out that the prediction that gave the press release its title came from the mouth (or keyboard) of LG NZ’s Electronics National Marketing Manager, Glen Chean.
It justifies itself by characterising LG as a “quiet innovator”, but points out that “many people don’t realise that LG are leaders in the manufacture of high-tech LCD screens that go into high performance smart phones and tablets.”
Okay, but so what?
“When it comes to whiteware, LG front loading washing machines have been the top selling brand in Australia and the USA, where they’ve been number one for six consecutive years.”
Ah, I’m starting to get it, I think. The bit about LG manufactures the screens that many other brands use in their smart phones and tablets is interesting, and gives the reader the sense that we’ve got a company that’s serious about its hardware, not just a brand that outsources all its components; but it’s still rather obscure. But the claim that LG has been the best selling washing machine brand in the US and Australia for six consecutive years is fairly impressive. Popularity is infectious, after all. But hang on a minute, they’re talking about front loading washing machines here, not television panels or hi-fi equipment or tablets or smart phones.
By this point, the poor Witchdoctor reporter is feeling a little confused. What, exactly, is the point of all this, and how will LG justify the prediction that headlines its press release?
So, here’s the paragraph that’s supposed to be the answer to all this intrigue:
“LG are at the cutting edge of technology, spending millions of dollars a year on research and development,” says Chean. “Although relatively new in New Zealand with sales and market share growing rapidly, I’m looking forward to bringing more of LG’s amazing products to New Zealand, and creating new ways to enhance Kiwis’ experience of LG and our products.”
Okay, that’s very nice, but how exactly will LG become the leading TV and whitegoods brand in New Zealand?
The last paragraph doesn’t offer an answer. ‘He plans to continue building the brand’s visibility, focusing on some astonishing technological breakthroughs – including the category-redefining new Ultra High Definition and Organic LED TVs.’
And that’s it! I had to read this piece of guff three times to convince myself that the answer to the claim at the beginning wasn’t hidden somewhere on the page.
Us beleaguered representatives of what’s left of the Press are acclimatised to receiving press releases full of generalisations and soggy ideas about how to string words together, but this is just sad. Worse, it’s useless. Because it makes a claim and then gives absolutely no idea how LG is going to achieve its aims, except the kind of generalisations any one of the major consumer electronics companies would use to describe their overall plan for world domination.
In fact, I imagine that Glen Chean would have himself made similar claims for Sony and Samsung in the past – both companies with which he has served time.
Which isn’t to say that Chean won’t be good for LG. Its latest range of TV panels and whiteware, launched a couple of months back, is uniformly impressive, and Chean’s mixture of technical knowledge and easy affability puts him head and shoulders above the former LG NZ representatives, all seemingly Korean and not fluent enough in the English language to communicate effectively to Kiwis – at launches, at least.
But this release, concocted by PR agency Lily & Louis, who have represented LG in NZ for since it really started to get aggressive in the local market a few years back, clearly won’t do. I presume that LG NZ spends quite a bit of cash on its local PR representation. Any of Witchdoctor’s writer-experts could have done better in their sleep. We’re open to offers, Mr Chean. GARY STEEL
NOTE: In response to this piece, the Managing Partner of Lily & Louis, LG’s PR company in NZ, Jacqui Ansin, replies: “Point taken about not providing detail on how LG plans to become NZ’s leading TV and whitegoods brand. This was simply intended to be an announcement of Glen’s new role, and a brief overview of where he intends to take the brand – with more information to be provided over the coming months as new products and innovations are rolled out.
“A few stats you may be interested in: LG business has grown more than 40 percent for the first half of 2013, compared with 2012. This is driven by improved sales across most categories including TV, whiteware and mobile. LG TV sales and market share have increase by 6 percent vs. the same time last year. This is due to sales of premium TVs such as 3D LED TVs where LG achieved number one market share May 2013.”