Over the past three months we have been handling the PR for Macquarie University’s Faculty of Business and Economics. The faculty was involved in the research for the recent EOWA Australian Census of Women in Leadership and a media release based on the results was distributed to journalists prior to the official release date under a strict embargo.
But what does embargo mean and why was this process used to release the EOWA data? Let us explain.
So what is an embargoed release?
An embargoed release is a media release or announcement that is shared with the media in advance of its publishing date. Unlike ‘off the record’ which is never supposed to be published at all, embargoed information is intended to be published. But, it is only meant to be published at the time disclosed by the release distributer.
The release shares confidential information with the journalist, but it is shared with the understanding that it is meant to remain confidential until the stated publishing date. This date is stated very clearly at the beginning of the release.
The crucial part to embargoes is the element of trust. By sending your release out with an embargoed release date you are placing a great deal of trust in the media to respect your wishes. However, by doing this you can help form a stronger relationship and earn the respect of the journalist and more often than not they will abide by your embargoed date.
What’s the point?
Embargoes allow you to send your information out to journalists prior to the release date to give them notice of the upcoming news. This allows them to prepare their stories in advance. With increased lead time it gives the journalist time to provide additional insight into the issue that might not otherwise be part of a breaking news story.
Embargoes stop information being published before “full disclosure.” This is particularly important for public companies that by law need to ensure that everyone hears the news on a particular issue at the same time. Sharing this information via an embargo hopes to prevent the information being leaked early.
Another reason to use embargoed releases is to ensure information is released at the same time across a variety of media sources. Newspapers are generally dailies with tight timelines, but magazines have long lead times and often require information months in advance. The embargoed date allows the stories to be published simultaneously.
When to use them
Very few announcements need to be embargoed. Here are a couple of examples to help you understand when you should use an embargo:
• If the announcement is complex and needs demonstrating and explaining.
• If there are commercial reasons why details can’t be shared gradually over time beforehand, such as competitive pressure.
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