Valleywag has started blogger debate about whether the end has come for the public relations practice of putting embargoes on news releases (ie issuing with a specified date/time before which the story can be reported).
This is something that I am aware being debated for nearly 20 years in PR (and probably long before my time). In the UK automotive world, sanctions used to be applied against media breaking embargoes (such as strikes off lauch invite lists) – but in recent years, a more considered approach has been evident in negotiating individual “exclusives” to enable a wider variety of “first” stories to be published around new car launches.
A universal embargo (or “urgent”) on all releases is clearly pointless – many stories have no hard news value, so a simple issue date is all that is necessary. There are also times when an embargo is necessary – such as with the release of restricted financial information.
In fact, a request was made by online media at a workshop I organised for MIPAA in the Autumn. It was agreed an embargo for first-seen photos or other “hot” automotive news, was a good thing for online media who could release immediately at 00:01 hours and enjoy the benefits themselves of breaking such stories.
The current debate centres around leaking of an embargoed story to the US print media by blog Google Watch – which ran a piece on how the major publications targeted by Google stayed “on message”, using only sources provided to them and adding little original research or insight.
So is the question whether or not to embargo, or more about “lazy” journalism and PR’s attempts to manage the media?