Embargoes: why we hacks hate them

Chris Edwards dissects, in truly remarkable detail, the many ways in which embargoes can screw journalists, PRs and companies up. Very well worth reading; he reckons there are four sorts of embargoes – including the “psychically transmitted”:

the story was the result of a more general interview which was, apparently, to have been issued on a release some time later. There is a belief among some PRs that journalists are unwilling to write some stories, even from face-to-face interviews, without some form of release. Do not believe them. They are misguided, even if experience does suggest to them otherwise. Similarly, some PRs believe you can impose an embargo unilaterally. Don’t try that at home. You might be dismayed by the results.

And then there was the other, worse time..

The one that is truly burned into my memory is the launch of some vapourware that involved a trek to Berkshire to a startup’s offices. I can’t remember why I agreed to it as the product was vapourware of the purest form – it did finally arrive, but it took a while and what finally appeared had a rather vague connection to the original plan. On arrival at the office, the PR presented me with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). I handed it straight back and asked for her to call for a cab. She was a bit surprised – presumably expecting a bit of grumble but, ultimately, compliance. She asked, why? “Because there’s no point in me staying here, is there?” I replied. “I’m not signing it.”

I too hate NDAs (non-disclosure agreemnts). I think I shan’t sign another; these days, with embargoes and NDAs getting exploded all over the web by the fact that loads of people are discussing everything and putting them together, there just isn’t any point. You’ll probably find it out somewhere else anyway.

That’s the trouble with embargoes: they’re almost always artificial, unless they’re something to do with finance, in which case are you sure you should be briefing people anyway? Product launches, oh, sure, except shipping dates can slip. And really you have to have used a product for about a month before you really know what its benefits and drawbacks are.

1 Comment

  1. There’s also the PRs who use a newswire service to distribute a news release with an embargo, ignorant of the fact that anyone can read the wire which will also end up on Google News etc.

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