Every once in a while, a reporter will break an embargo on a press release. Sometimes it’s a mistake, other times it doesn’t seem like an accident. In either case, when dealing with an embargoed release, I find myself being very clear with reporters that I haven’t worked with before.
Well, apparently not all reporters think that an embargoed release is a good thing. On BusinessWeek’s Blogspotting blog, Stephen Baker writes:
I just came across this post about embargoed news releases. Quick response. I’m not the least bit interested in “embargoed” news. A news embargo, by definition, means you’re getting played (in a conspicuous way). It’s an invitation to join a herd.
No doubt it works on occasion. A beat reporter covering Microsoft or Oracle can’t afford to follow the competition on a software release. But for me, an embargoed release screams out from my inbox: “Erase me.”
It would seem beneficial to give ‘embargoed stories’ an open mind. After all, the point of offering a reporter an embargoed release is to give them ample time to speak with the companies, other parties that are involved, and write the story (unrushed), and pass it through an editor, all before the news breaks. This way, they can publish their story the exact same time as the press release is made public, and can even have it set up automatically for that morning, eliminating the stress of beating their competitors – something that has become a constant in world of the internet.
Would reporters prefer to see a news-worthy press release cross on their Google alerts, and then rush to interview people (if they’re available), write a story, get it approved by an editor, and post it online, all while their competitors are trying to do the exact same thing, only quicker?
If reporters don’t like this scenario, the only other option is to give exclusivity to one reporter, which would make many, many, many other reports quite upset.
So what’s really wrong with an embargoed announcement? You might be joining a ‘herd’ of reporters, but it guarantees your getting the news with plenty time to prepare.