The death of the “press embargo”
If any of you deal with the technology press, i.e. want them to publish stories on your stuff, you may know about the concept of a “press embargo”, where you send them info and say “don’t release this until X date”. Last night at a panel I found out some interesting info about this.
These used to exist and be widely used. They let a company manage the time at which it’s “big news” would come out, and it let reporters have some extra time to prepare their story and make it higher-quality without risking being out of date.
However, lately the whole thing has broken down. TechCrunch and the Wall St. Journal, in particular, have been undermining the “gentleman’s agreement” that made this work. A tech jouralist now has to assume that by following the embargo, he or she will end up being out of date (“scooped” is apparently not really a term-of-art any more). In general, journalists do not like them, and will not honor any that is more than one week out. They worry that someone else will discover the news and not have agreed to the embargo, or the news will leak some other way, or someone will just ignore the embargo. Also, some journalists now consider them just too problematic and too much trouble and ignore embargoed press releases entirely.
So, take this into account if you were thinking of doing an embargo’ed press release.
The panel session was called “An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Bootstrapping PR”. It was at last night’s Web Innovator’s Group meeting, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, MA. The panelists were excellent.