RIP The Press Embargo

  • PR

So the Wall Street Journal has said it will no longer adhere to press release embargoes.  So what?  This really shouldn’t come as any shock to PR folk; it’s nothing new.

Back in 2008 TechCrunch, one of the most popular and influential IT blogs, publicly said it would deliberately break every embargo it was given by PR agencies.  It’s an interesting read which

you can see here.

Publishing is ever more a cut-throat business as the need to be first with the big online stories becomes greater.  Being first with an online news story means you stand to gain more click-throughs – and more click-throughs means your website is more valuable to an advertiser.  Plus, being first with a story means your site ranks higher in the search engines.  Which attracts more traffic.

What’s worse for the likes of the WSJ is that as well as their contemporaries in the print news world, they’re also competing online with the likes of bloggers, gossip sites and even citizen journalists.

So when TechCrunch doesn’t stick to the embargo, they’re more likely to be first with the tech news ahead of, say, Katie Boehret (@kabster728),  a technology reporter on the Wall Street Journal.  So you can see what the WSJ is thinking.

And while you’re thinking about the plight of the news print publishers, add this into the mix: who scooped the biggest story of the year (some might say ‘decade’)?  The Sunday Times? The Wall Street Journal? The New York Times? The BBC? Sky? CNN? Fox News? The Sun? News of the World? No, Michael Jackson’s death was reported first by a four-year-old celebrity gossip site called

So, back to embargoes.  Should we be worried?  Well, it’s almost 20 months since TechCrunch said it would break every embargo it was given, yet today if you’re a technology PR consultant, TechCrunch is still going to be one of the first telephone calls you make when you’ve got a good story.