Are Embargoed Releases Dead?


Note: My first draft of this blog basically listed reasons why I think that the embargoed press release is dead.  After passing the draft around to get some opinions and edits, I was starting to hear, “Nicole, this is great, but I don’t really agree with you.”  So, here I sit with the second go at the entry… and I hope that it sparks some lively discussion from both sides!

When I first started my career in public relations embargoed releases were something that we discussed with clients and within our agency on, at least, a weekly basis.  In my first year of agency life I distributed five embargoed releases on behalf of clients with “breaking” news for next week.

Looking at public relations and the media today, are embargoed releases even necessary?  I think that they are less important than before, and here’s why:

  • Technology. In the mid 90’s email was just coming on line. Agencies used to fax or mail press releases to media outlets.  Publicists used to have to work the phones (gasp!) to pitch media, who were always on deadline and would be anxious to get you off the phone. Setting up a story and sources used to take hours (if you were lucky) and lots of coordination. In today’s world, use of email and mobile applications have sped this process up.  Most of my media contacts appreciate a well-written, concise pitch via email – NOT a traditional press release.  Response to the email can take time, but if your news is time sensitive (read: breaking news) you can reach the media quickly.  A call to the assignment desk if necessary, with a follow-up email if they have requested more information is easily done.
  • Social Media. Sure, it is great if you can get a network evening news program to break your client’s story – but if you are not getting the traction you need, you can break the news yourself via social media.  Stowe Boyd made the “twit pitch” popular. PitchEngine, made an easy platform for creation and distribution of social media releases (SMRs).  These are just two of the many examples of how you can get the message out to traditional and non-traditional press… and go direct to consumer.

Bottom line is getting the story out in a “controlled” way – avoiding information leaks before your client is ready for the news to break.  I have had experiences with a major news network jumping the gun by 20 hours and pushing my story out – Hooray! I got the press for the client, but we were just not ready yet.

So, what do you think? Are embargoed releases still an important way of how we do public relations today? Why or why not?


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5 Responses to “Are Embargoed Releases Dead?”

  1. BrianJ Says:

    I wish embargoes were indeed a thing of the past. But it still seems fairly standard practice amongst many of the PR people I deal with, both in agencies and working inside companies. Some media outlets have stated they will no longer honour embargo dates. If that trend catches on, we might finally see news reported when it should be – as it breaks.

    • Nicole Ravlin Says:

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for your comment! As a publicist, we often “think” we know what journalists want – but to hear that you (the media) are not a fan of embargoed releases carries a lot of weight.


  2. @EvilPRGuy Says:

    I agree, embargoed releases are done and done. I actually had a smallish blogger jump the gun on a project this past weel, and to be honest it worked out very well. After this person leaked the story a day early, 26 other media outlets (4 of them major tier one pubs including the WSJ) grabbed the story and ran with it. It saved me pitching time!

    I think the main point is that ‘Exclusives’ are almost meaningless these days, because if a story is great, every outlet will re-post and link it with their own spin in a very short period of time.

    • Nicole Ravlin Says:

      Thanks for the comment, Michael! I quite agree with you.

      And – yeah for you and your client! 27 pick ups!! That is even sweeter when the story is picked up through social media.


  3. Nicole Ravlin Says:

    Thanks to Andrew Swenson (@wordpost on Twitter) for pointing out a post by the Bad Pitch Blog on embargos:

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