CHARLESTON – An online video from Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office misses the mark with at least one local public relations professional.
"It's pretty awful," said the PR executive, who wished to remain anonymous for this critique.
The video, which can be found on Facebook, has the look and feel of a 1970s cop drama and seems like a music video. The video is posted by Charleston-area band The Carpenter Ants, which does the music for the video.
"My first reaction is that it's far too long," the PR executive said of the video, which clocks in at 3 minutes and 43 seconds. "Any kind of viral or social media message has to move quickly, and a long-form music video isn't the way to accomplish that."
The anonymous PR executive is a veteran in the field who has worked in West Virginia and surrounding states and who is familiar the law industry, online marketing and video production.
Last week, Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes said the video is meant to alert a younger generation of college students and recent graduates with debt to contact McGraw's consumer protection hotline.
"We were aiming for a different demographic to get younger people that don't know about the services of the Attorney General's Office, that the mediation is free and to promote our 800 number," Hughes told the Charleston Daily Mail. "There are a lot of young people who are in a financial crisis and they don't know where to turn.
"How do we get to that audience? How do we get young college students that might be graduating at age 21 and 22 with a large credit card debt? I mean, how do we reach them?"
The executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, however, said he's offended by the video.
Clearly, the Attorney General's office is finding new and creative ways to waste state funds," WV CALA's Richie Heath said. "Darrell McGraw's latest video junket might be funny if it wasn't such a sad waste of taxpayer money. With McGraw up for re-election in 2012, it looks like West Virginians will once again be bombarded with state-funded advertisements promoting McGraw's political campaign.
"It's a shame that state lawmakers have abandoned their power of the purse and allowed Attorney General McGraw to get away with such wasteful self-promotion. Our state funds could certainly be better used elsewhere."
Hughes told the Daily Mail that the video cost about $2,500 to make and that it was produced in-house.
The video's storyline includes a debt collection, a loan shark and a good guy named "The Badge." He chases the collector around Charleston.
"Debt, debt, got me on my knees," the band sings in the video. "Darrell McGraw, can you help me please? My future sure looks bleak; without some help I will surely sink into a sea of bankruptcy."
"Makes no difference if they're big or small, General McGraw, he can whoop 'em all ... just like the tobacco companies. He's looking out for you and me."
The PR executive said the video just doesn't work.
"Unless you're trying to reach a select market of urban hipsters, this vehicle would deliver a very narrowly focused message," the executive said. "I would imagine whoever was distributing these public funds is likely friends with the Carpenter Ants.
"Have you seen a lot of college students at Carpenter Ants shows or who even know who the Carpenter Ants are? Attorney General McGraw needs to find a hip-hop artist as soon as possible. Now, I'd watch that!"
McGraw himself appears in the video to offer some advice to "The Badge."
"Book 'em, Darrell," "The Badge" says as he enters McGraw's office.
"You know, the way I see it, son, the Attorney General's Office doesn't run around like a bunch of clowns," McGraw tells him.
The PR executive wasn't kind to McGraw either.
"They need to spend some funds on Attorney General McGraw's acting chops," the PR executive said.