In some cases, a press release is embargoed. That means that although the press release is distributed to key members of the media, the news organizations are asked not to report on the story until a specific time. As an example, a company may send samples of their product to be reviewed on various blogs, magazines, etc. However, they may request that the reviews or any information about the product aren’t published until closer to the product’s official release date.
There are many reasons behind sending out embargoed press releases, including:
It allows companies to synchronize the release of news. This is still important today since bloggers can publish news much faster than newspapers or magazines. An embargoed press release keeps everyone on the same playing field.
It helps you manufacture buzz. This goes hand in hand with the previous point, but it’s worth mentioning. One of the main reasons for forcing everyone to report the story at the same time is that it helps create a buzz around the news event. Whenever everyone is reporting on your story at once, it creates the impression that you have something BIG going on.
It gives journalists an opportunity to prepare their story. By giving reporters a heads up, they have more time to do their research to create a better story. Remember, these guys (and girls) are covering tons of stories, so giving them that extra lead time can help them work your story into their busy schedule. Make sure you have a news room setup on your website for reporters to get more information about your company.
It could help avoid legal issues. There may be situations where a company could get in trouble if a journalist publishes certain information too soon. Embargoed press releases can be helpful in avoiding these nasty scenarios.
Protecting your embargo
The first thing you should always know is that just because you ask reporters not to cover a story before a certain time and date doesn’t mean they have to abide by your wishes. There are some journalists out there who will intentionally break embargoes, whether it’s due to a publication deadline or just so they can scoop the competition. Granted, those reporters usually get cut off and never talked to again, but you should know that it can happen.
Be specific with publication date and time. In some cases, it might not be enough to say “Under embargo until June 21st.” That still opens up the possibility of some reporters sending the story out at 12:01 am, beating others to punch. It’s better to add a time (e.g. June 21, 3:00am EST).
Be fair with issuing press release embargoes. Don’t try to embargo some outlets and then give your favorite reporter an exclusive. That’s a media relations no-no, and it will cause everyone else to write you off forever.
Use the embargoed press release sparingly. Embargoed press releases only make sense in certain rare occasions. The vast majority of press releases you distribute should be for immediate release. If you overuse the embargo thing, it gets old fast.