Embargo Fail

November 11, 2008 — 7 Comments

So I get an email this morning from a company telling me to take down a post because I’d broken their embargo and that me having the post up would effect their ability to get publicity on other sites.

The thing is I hadn’t broken it. They’d failed to detail the embargo time properly. The original email said midnight, September 11, and was for an Australian site (the intro of the press release read Melbourne, Australia). It didn’t say midnight September 11, US Eastern or Pacific. I posted it at midnight, September 11, Melbourne time, which just happens to me my time, so I sort of knew what time that was.

In retrospect it was probably an unintentional oversight on their behalf, and I won’t name the PR firm, but I take issue with being accused of breaking an embargo and damaging the prospects of their client because they fucked up.

I’ve actually asked the company to please consider removing me from future distribution lists. I would have likely written the post anyway in this case because I love nothing more than promoting local sites (well, as long as they haven’t taken funding from Jordan Green), but the traffic benefits for me doing so were marginal at best, and although it may have been a somewhat interesting story for some, ultimately choosing to write it is doing them a favor, not the other way around, although you’d never know by the way they seemingly deal with bloggers.

I’m really starting to get tired of the whole embargo thing again, although in some regards I guess I never was not tired of it to begin with. I’m tired of getting people asking if they can send things through if I agree to respect an embargo. I WILL RESPECT YOUR EMBARGO AS MY DEFAULT POSITION. STOP CLOGGING MY INBOX.

But there is one exception, and that’s AOL, who I’m guessing will probably never send me a thing again. I’ve had two recent releases under embargo from AOL. The first story involved a 1 hour chat with them on the phone, and a considerable amount of effort into the post. One site broke the embargo by 6 hours, and others followed. By the time we hit the story it was too late. The second time I went to write the story 2 hours before the embargo time, and I found out that AOL had actually broke its own embargo. The last email I wrote to AOL was that while I’m happy to receive their correspondence in future, I reserve the right to randomly post the story at any time before the embargo.

The problem with embargoes is the haphazard way they are enforced. The first company got really shitty with me breaking their embargo (even though it was their fault), but other companies just shrug their shoulders when someone breaks it. And the end result is a complete and utter joke.

I’ll still consider stories under embargo, but from now on I’m going to ignore or request removal from distribution lists where the embargo is not enforced (and regularly broken by others), or as the case may be, I get blamed when I was actually doing the right thing. Life’s to short for these stupid games, and although I’m always interested in story ideas, PR folk need blogs and bloggers in general more than we need them.