Embargoes: Love ‘em, Hate ‘em, Please Don’t Break ‘em

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Groan if you must, but embargoes remain important to the role of both PR professionals and reporters. PR professionals can strategically coordinate coverage of significant news and reporters can file detailed, researched stories with quotes the moment news breaks.


Of course, there are stories of embargoes gone wrong. In this recent Twitter conversation, several reporters discuss etiquette for moving forward after a time zone snafu created a broken embargo situation. However, most problems can be avoided by respecting the relationship with your contact and following some simple do’s and don’ts:


  • Have an honest conversation with your contact – lay out the details, expectations and logistics of the embargo so you can both feel comfortable about the agreement.
  • Be clear on all logistics including date and time zone.  
  • Offer the news with enough lead time to allow the reporter to research the topic and secure quotes.


  • Offer an exclusive that isn’t. Save exclusive offers for a time when a single, significant hit makes sense. Don’t try to complicate an embargo by offering exclusives to different publication types or by staggering times.
  • Overuse the embargo. The majority of announcements don’t require a synchronized launch, so save the tactic for significant news where reporters will appreciate advanced notice and the company will benefit from the buzz of many stories hitting at once.
  • Offer an embargo to reporters or publications that have a policy against accepting them.

So, now your turn to weigh in…The press embargo – a time-honored, respected tradition or logistical nightmare bound to cause problems?