Embargoed Press Releases and social media

embargoed press releases and bloggers

The first time I got an “embargo-ed” press release I had to go ask someone -oh, ok, Twitter – what it was. It’s this strange ritual in P.R that’s a bit like a duel. Everyone takes a press release, blindfolds themselves then takes ten paces back, turns and fires. Only you’re not allowed to pull the trigger early.

Only, with press releases, everyone does:

Embargoed news, if you aren’t familiar with the term: a company wants to announce news, like a product launch or a new funding. They brief lots of press with a stated day and time for the news to break. Press agrees not to write before that time. But generally someone goes early, with a really good excuse like a time stamp software problem, and then everyone floods out with the news. Whoever broke the story in the first place generally gets more eyeballs and attention than the others, so there are lots of incentives for mistakes. Particularly because no one ever punishes the offenders. (TechCrunch)

It seems that TechCrunch started a trend of “no embargoes”

But what’s interesting is that since that post the embargo culture in the tech news world has essentially crumbled. Chaos rules, and even the once great Microsoft and Google have fallen.This is a good thing for readers.

Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal also implemented a no embargo policy unless they get an exclusive, mirroring our position. People freaked out. In June a Microsoft embargo for Microsoft Hohm broke early (that was VentureBeat, a wonderfully repeat offender – last year they once broke every embargo for a week and then claimed it was a daylight saving issue or something).

Well, if it’s good enough for TechCrunch and Wall Street Journal it’s good enough for me.

Why? Because I got three embargoed press releases this afternoon. I could tell you what they were, skater arrowbut I’d have to kill you.  Now the way I blog is this: flick through, decide it might be interesting, read it properly, think with every brain cell I have, blog a masterpiece.  Within minutes usually. Embargo means I have to: read, digest, decide if I might want to blog about it in a few days, put it in my diary, try to remember, probably forget, decide it was a waste of time anyway, make a snarky comment that is bascially negative branding, feel guilty for being mean, eat chocolate. It’s all too traumatic.

So this is the deal. If you want to embargo me on something, don’t send it to me first with the word “embargoed” at the bottom of the email. Ring me, offer an exclusive – or wine – and see if I am amenable.

Cos frankly one day I will forget something is embargoed and post it early. And it will be YOUR fault. This post is for that day.

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  1. As someone within the industry who puts embargoes on things, I just wanted to add that the embargo emerged as a way of organising a story for traditional media, which would allow the story to be covered within a static newscycle. ie – save this for your 6pm news or tomorrow’s paper.

    As media has gone online, and stories can break 24/7,there’s a less of a need for the embargo in first place.

    The same could be said, and indeed has been, for the humble press release itself.

    The embargo will become a historical peculiarity, and Ms Silk, you’re on the money.

    Happy hunting.

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