Posted by Tom Foremski - March 13, 2015
In this Guest Post, PR industry veteran Mike Maney makes a strong case for embargoes. I work with embargoes because publishing a press release before its time is not a scoop. If I'm smart enough, I can come up with an original and exclusive angle on an important story, from having time to ask the right questions.
By Mike Maney
A common complaint among the media is that embargoes are the spawn of Satan. An unnecessary evil foisted upon reporters for the sake of squeezing every last drop of digital ink from a marketer’s jargon-filled pitch.
This is true of embargoes 99.999% of the time. I’ve railed on them. A lot. I do my best to avoid them. I like laser-targeting stories I’ve uncovered (or manufactured) to the journalist who would be the most interested in the topic. Not the two, three or ten journalists, but the one.
It’s tough work (okay, not tough like oil rigger tough, but…). It requires paying attention to rivers of news, to reading things from wildly different corners of the media world, to actually engaging with reporters as humans when I don’t have anything to sell them.
That isn’t done with a pitch list.
But there’s that other 00.001% of of the time. It’s the time when you actually have news. Not earth shattering “Hey, we found Amelia Earhart!” news, but legit news.
This is when the judicious use of the embargo becomes necessary. It’s necessary not because the news needs to be controlled, but — wait for it — because reporters have made it necessary.
How many times has a company’s news team received this email: “Sorry, my competitor already ran the story. Yes, I know it’s a story my readers should hear, but I can’t do anything with it now that it’s out there.”
So, news that is news isn’t news unless it drives clicks (read: advertising). Uh huh. Yeah. Hence, the embargo. A way for companies to *help* reporters by leveling the playing field and take the “Ooh! I was first! Nah nah nah!” out of the journalistic equation.
Readers don’t care who was first. They care about the story.
The White House press corps has it right, so do some professional sports: pool reporters to cover the basic stuff, individual reporters to dive deep and give stories the attention and analysis they deserve.
AP announced automated game recaps - a victory for data & algorithms is another body blow to journalists
— Tim Blair (@TimothyBlair)
Is it time for a similar tech press corp? A corp where rookie journalists are thrown into the pool to cover press release and event news, leaving seasoned reporters the time to dive deeper into the issues and trends that surround the industry?
And, if that’s the model, where do these seasoned reporters dive deep?
They do it from inside the khaki lined walls of Corporate America, where budgets exist to support them and forward-thinking companies give them the access, time and support they need to tell strong, smart and insightful stories.
Because as much as we all want to think the relationship between trade reporter and tech company is adversarial, the reality is all they really want to do is find and tell good stories about their industry.
Sadly, the traditional outlets for telling those stories are dwindling, victim to a business model that relies on commodity news for clicks (see embargo above). But the stories still exist, they still need to get told and there are an increasing number of topnotch reporters on the market who still want to tell them.
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Mike Maney is the founder of ManeyDigital, where he provides experienced communications counsel to startups and members of the Fortune 500.
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