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Do You Get More Product Coverage With a News Embargo?

Exploring the pros and cons of including a media embargo strategy in your PR plan for product announcements.

As tech PR professionals, product announcements are our bread and butter. Whether it’s a new-to-market solution or an enhancement to your existing suite of products, a well-timed announcement is essential to reaching your target audience and creating awareness. When strategizing your PR plan, there are a number of considerations you need to take into account when trying to maximize coverage. Enter the embargo vs. don’t embargo debate.

While your PR instinct may tell you to give reporters time to consider the product news with an embargo, it may not be necessary. Or appropriate. Here are some things to consider before your next product announcement. 

The market matters 

No two news announcements are the same, and that’s especially true across markets. Product coverage greatly varies in tech, and the outcome in industries like cybersecurity will be very different from general tech or AI product coverage results. 

Given the security industry’s competitiveness, there’s a barrage of news just about every day. That makes breaking through and getting product coverage challenging. In this case, an embargo would be useful to give those busy reporters more time to consider if they can (or want to) cover your announcement. 

With more general tech (like AI, databases and edge solutions, for example) you may find success pitching the product coverage on the day of, without advance notice. These markets typically need less lead time for product news — just take a look at our clients ngrok and NS1. In these instances, an embargo isn’t necessary to be successful. 

What’s your goal? 

After considering your market, set goals for an announcement with your team and define what success looks like for you. Before deciding on an embargo, think about the following:

  • Timing: If there’s no strong or immediate business need to announce your product news at a specific time, you control the timing. It may be beneficial to hold off and let the product team launch it behind the scenes to work out the kinks before taking it public and offering it to reporters. 
  • Flexibility: If you can be flexible, it may be better to pitch the news under embargo to give reporters with limited resources the option to review, demo and interview executives ahead of the launch. 
  • Business considerations: However, if there’s an immediate business or sales need to put out the news quickly, it may make sense to have everything (press release, blog, social) go live on the same day and not pitch it in advance. 

Don’t confuse a media exclusive with a media embargo

Knowing the difference between an embargo and an exclusive is an important distinction. With an embargo, the news is going to a list of reporters in advance of the announcement and will not be tied to one single publication, so you’re still able to get a number of pieces of coverage. In the case of exclusives, you’re offering your product news to one reporter at one top-tier outlet to break the news. This would include only giving them access to your assets and executives for interviews. In most cases, an exclusive isn’t necessary and should be reserved for only high-profile announcements — usually beyond product news. 

You’ve decided on a news embargo — now what? 

After weighing your options and moving forward with embargo pitching, get all your ducks in a row to maximize your strategy. Your next steps should include: 

  1. Syncing on timing with the product team: If you’re offering something to reporters, you want to make sure the timing is right. If there is some discrepancy between the product and marketing teams about availability, it’s best to hold off on media efforts. The less back-and-forth you have with reporters, the better. You usually have only one shot at getting their attention. 
  2. Prepping the materials and locking them: Before having any touch point with the media, you need to be buttoned up. For the smoothest process, all assets, including press release, blog and images, should be locked seven days in advance. All edits stop there. Additionally, when offering a demo, it needs to be functional for reporters. There’s nothing worse than “technical difficulties” in front of the person who plans to write about it.
  3. Ensuring spokespeople are available and prepped: Keeping spokespeople abreast of the content and its timing is necessary before pitching under embargo. Your executives have a clear understanding of when they could be called upon for an interview to avoid the last-minute scramble.

A news embargo isn't right for every product announcement, but in the right case, it can help bolster coverage, interviews and awareness of your news. If you still need help deciding if you should use a media embargo strategy for your next product announcement, reach out to the Look Left team, and we can help.

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