pr embargo

Embargos introduce benefits and challenges in today’s public relations space. With PR embargoes, PR professionals can time key announcements to take control of a narrative and provide reporters with adequate time to prepare comprehensive stories about a subject.

At the same time, PR embargos are challenging to implement. Journalists feel obligated to publish a story first; hence, it may be a challenge to convince journalists to implement a PR embargo.

What is a PR Embargo

PR embargos refer to announcements or media releases shared with journalists prior to the publishing date. Embargoed announcements or media releases are meant to be published on the date specified by the distributor.

The purpose of a PR embargo is to share confidential information that’s meant to stay confidential until the specified date. Such arrangements allow journalists to prepare in-depth articles prior to the stipulated date.

What does having a PR embargo mean

Having a PR embargo means preventing the publication of information before its “full-disclosure” date. Particularly important, PR embargoes help public companies – that are required by law – to ensure that all stakeholders receive important news at the same time. Creating a PR embargo prevents leaking of information prior to the specified date.

Another reason for creating PR embargoes is to time the release of important information across different media outlets. Specifically, publishing information on magazines and newspapers varies. Newspapers are dailies that have a tight deadline, but magazines often require information several months prior to publication.

Announcements that need embargoes include highly complex announcements that need detailed demonstrations and explanations; announcements that have commercial implications making it important to prevent the sharing of such information, gradually.

How can PR pros use embargoes effectively

#1. Put it in writing

Communication professionals should avoid verbal agreements or email correspondence when issuing PR embargoes. Oftentimes, media reps may offer vague responses that do not obligate them to respect a PR obligation. To avoid leaking of time-sensitive information,PR professionals should create a non-confrontational agreement that’s shared with all media outlets and signatures from top editors in such media outlets should be obtained.

#2. Creating plans to respond to embargo violations and leaks

PR professionals should consider developing a comprehensive plan to respond to embargo violations and informational leaks. Specifically, PR teams should consider notifying other publications when an embargo is violated thus releasing them from a particular embargo. At the same time, PR agencies should consider banning publications that break embargoes. For publications that honor embargoes, PR agencies should arrange meetups with executives and thought leaders in an industry. Such arrangements help differentiate the coverage from publications that respect such arrangements.

#3. Manage client expectations

PR agencies should manage their client expectations in regard to PR embargoes. Particularly, media reps may interview clients but decide against featuring such an interview. To prevent frustrations, PR pros should make sure clients understand eventualities around their stories.

#4. Differentiate embargoes from exclusives

Exclusives allow PR agencies to release information to a single publisher while embargoes involve numerous publications. To ensure the effectiveness of an embargo PR pros should adopt appropriate pitching approaches to target the light publications.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.