Interesting piece in the current issue of PR Week about concerns we could be seeing the ‘Slow death of the embargo’. The Wall Street Journal is believed to have introduced a new policy stipulating that they will only honour embargos on exclusive stories. It’s a change of direction that’s obviously brought on by the pressure to be first with breaking news amid increasing competition from other online media outlets especially bloggers who traditionally have been more cavalier with embargos.
Certain newspapers may feel that they can’t afford the niceties of sitting on embargoed stories when specialist blogs are prepared to ‘publish and be dammed’. News has moved on it’s no longer written up today printed tonight and read in papers tomorrow, it’s available instantly & constantly via multiple formats.
The walls have come down and the means of news production are now available to anyone. In that light embargos can seem antiquated, but they still have a place, they just need to be used with care and not as a ‘catch all’ control mechanism.
PR Week editor Danny Rogers talks about embargoes as being “a lazy means of dealing with the media.” The WSJ and the blogs have stirred things up & if that stops these ‘lazy’ embargoes it’s probably no bad thing.
So what could this it mean for photos? I always feel the best way to handle a press PR photo is to use embargoes as sparingly as possible. Basically, ‘take it, get it out, get it in!’ Getting your pictures in the press is always hard enough without making it harder for yourself by putting embargoes across the top of them unless they’re really necessary.
Obviously certain photos because of logistics or availability need to be be taken beforehand and held back. Journalists will understand that and personal relationships, trust and exclusives will always play a role in this business. But maybe the shake up in attitudes towards embargoes generally will make people look at picture embargoes a bit harder too. Using embargoes where they aren’t really appropriate, such as on pictures taken in public places or of stunts that are open knowledge may start to become a thing of the past.
In this climate when the media is crying out for good, free to use PR copy, it’s unnecessary to shackle every story & picture with an embargo. Nobody can really control the media, instead we just need to continue to work with it making content that the press will want to use now, not next week.
Post by Tim Kerr (Director & Picture Editor of PA Photocall)