Dec 19, 2007
csalomonlee

Embargoes – Valid in the Brave New World of PR?

String on finger

Recently, I saw CenterNetworks tweet about broken embargoes and Allen wrote a follow up post about his views on embargoes.  This raises an interesting question about whether or not embargoes are still valid in this new world of instantaneous news and the desire to scoop your fellow bloggers and traditional media. 

Even before blogs, you always risked the possibility of a reporter breaking your embargo. Heck, this happened to me when I worked with a reputable national business outlet before my client launched at a conference. The article appeared on the Sunday before the conference began and also mentioned a couple of other companies.  

The saving grace? Reporters were still interested in learning more about the company and technology. And there were several high-quality articles written about the company. 

In the end, I believe embargoes are still valid. The question isn’t should you have an embargo or not but rather how you go about securing and managing embargoes.  

Considering an Exclusive to One Outlet – Depending on your news and objectives, it may be worthwhile to give one media outlet an exclusive on the news. Usually, if the news is big enough for a top-level reporter/blogger to honor an embargo for an exclusive, other reporters/blogs will still cover your news. 

Use Your Common Sense – If a reporter or blogger has consistently broken an embargo, it’s most likely that that they won’t honor an embargo. Still brief the person on your news, but schedule the briefing for the day of your announcement, not before. If the briefing is early enough, then they still have time to write up a brief for online publication. 

Not All News Require an Embargo - I think we tend to fall into the habit of trying to have embargoes for all press releases. This just won’t work. If you’re going to require an embargo, make sure the news is worthy of one.

Be Consistent with Embargoes – As Allen highlighted in his post, he “broke” his embargo because he noticed the news on the company website. If you’re going to have an embargo, be consistent on when information gets updated to a corporate website, blog, or social network, as well as distributed on the wire. If it happens often, reporters/bloggers will begin assuming it’s ok to post things early.

And what about reporters/bloggers who break an embargo? That’s a tough one. I think you have to take a case-by-case basis. For less sensitive news, give her an opportunity to earn back your trust – will she post the news even when you request that she hold it? If so, then you know not to trust them with embargoes. 

In the case of top-tier reporters/bloggers, if she breaks an embargo 2-3 times and appealing to an editor has no effect, then brief them only on the day of the announcement.  

 It’s just that simple, I hope =)

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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