TechCrunch Proclaims “Death to the Embargo”


TechCrunch has been scooped. By PRBackTalk in June. TechCrunch recently announced Death To The Embargo, but we figured embargoes don’t easily exist in the Web 2.0 world. Check out my initial post: Can PR Embargoes Survive in a Web 2.0 World?

Now it’s true that TechCrunch says death to the embargo from a very different perspective. But the conclusion is the same.

The TechCrunch death-to-embargoes is another example of the growing tension between journalists and publicists (hacks vs. flacks). I’ve been observing online the growing frustration on both sides (latest installment: PR and the fine art of not being crazy and BadPitch), and while most don’t seem to care about it, I think it’s fairly obvious what’s causing the tension:

  • Media companies are going through the worst down cycle since 1987, and perhaps the worst time since the 1930s. The advertising-supported business model no longer works.
  • Traditional media is also in the midst of seismic changes. We’re moving to an online-only model for most newspapers and magazines — and traditional media doesn’t like it. Neither do most PR agencies because clients still want national print coverage, and don’t consider online media to be important/worthwhile.
  • PR agencies can’t agree on metrics for online media so can’t merchandise their success the way they could with circulation numbers.
  • Online media distinctly works in new ways from traditional media — and the new rules, which are evolving and not set in stone yet — are frustrating both hacks and flacks because neither side “gets it” right now. Both sides are operating on assumptions — like embargoes, for example — that don’t make sense to the other party. (Embargoes, and the penalties for breaking them, used to be something both hacks and flacks understood. That’s no longer true.)

As PR executives, we strive to make sense of the changing media environment, and work to educate our clients based on what we see, what we read and what we hear from reporters. But it’s important for PR folks to make sure we understand the culture of each channel (like blogs, Facebook or Twitter). Social media isn’t a short cut, it’s just a new channel. To do it right takes time, patience and understanding.


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