Bloggers and embargo

I was at a product launch a few months ago and there was an embargo on the press release. During dinner time, someone from the traditional media made a remark to me “The embargo will surely be broken because they invited bloggers to the event”
Boy was I fuming mad. And yes, the guy obviously know that I’m a blogger. I told him that the bloggers invited to this event are all reputable bloggers and will not break the embargo. But that guy was insistence that the embargo will be broken by a blogger. In the end, I decided to end the conversation with that reporter since it is getting nowhere.
And nobody broke the embargo for that event.
Are bloggers really that bad? I really have no idea where that guy get that sort of stereotyping from. As far as I know, no Singapore blogger has ever broken an embargo yet. Perhaps everyone needs to know that there are 2 type of bloggers, the Newspaper type and the Tabloids type, just like Traditional Media. And obviously a company (or its PR agency) would only invite the Newspaper type of bloggers just like they will only invite the Newspaper to their event. Who wants a Tabloid to cover their story anyway?
Although there is no written blogger ethics yet (I wish there is one), most bloggers do treasure their reputation. If there is an embargo, they wouldn’t risk damaging their reputation just for that one small traffic spike. Any smart person would know that it is not worth it at all. All you need is to break one embargo and you can be sure that you will be banned from ALL events. It only takes a while for all the companies and PR agencies to know that someone broke an embargo.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I receive a press release or gadget with an embargo. Everytime I got an embargo, I make sure that they are not broken. For example, I knew about Lenovo T400s more than a month before its official announcement. I even played with it and took lots of photo of it. It was an exciting product but I followed the embargo and published the blog entry after the embargo is lifted. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
If you want to send an embargo material to a blogger, my advice to you is, do some background check first. Check if the blogger is a Newspaper type or Tabloids type blogger. Its not very difficult to tell the difference.
And if there is an embargo at the event, it would be nice to inform the blogger during registration. Because bloggers do tweet during the event. So it would be nice to inform them about the embargo just in case they started tweeting before opening the press release.
Update: I was told that there was one incident where a local blogger broke an embargo.

9 comments

  1. Nods, good points raised about informing the bloggers in advance about potential embargoes and blogger credibility.
    Question: wouldn’t the idea of ‘blogger ethics’ go against the very grain of online-social-media?

  2. (sheepish) I missed a word – I meant to say having ‘written blogger ethics’.
    I.e. having a set a rules goes against the nature of of it being WOM and inclusive. The beauty of this space is the ability to share what you feel.

  3. Great points regarding blogger engagement, especially the bit about Twitter.
    However, I do know of cases where embargo was broken locally. (I’m refraining from mentioning specifics due to conflict of interest.)
    That’s why you’re right about picking bloggers carefully for any outreach. I rather have a few great stories about my brand/product/service than a boatload of rubbish.
    .-= Daniel´s last blog ..Absolute Must-Reads for Web Entrepreneurs =-.

  4. I think it all boils down to mutual trust. For example, you wouldn’t tell a friend you barely know a secret and make them promise not to break the secret, right?
    Bloggers & journalists are human — it just that one has slightly more editorial independence over the other. Maybe the journalist had a bad experience with a blogger and unfortunately, that’s his/her perception.
    Embargoes are tricky. There has to be a very good reason behind the embargo, besides the usual “oh we can’t release the news because HQ says so.” And what happens if the embargo is broken? What are the consequences to the blogger/journalist if he/she breaks the embargo? If a top blogger/journalist breaks the embargo, it doesn’t make sense for the PR agency to sever the relationship for future news — but then again, this has been done before.
    Mike Arrington of Techcrunch has an interesting view on embargoes: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/12/17/death-to-the-embargo/
    .-= Audrey´s last blog ..New Clip: 9 =-.

  5. Supriya: True that the beauty of new media is the ability to share what you feel. The code of ethics shouldn’t be restrictive. But it should promote ethics among bloggers. (For example, not breaking embargo, not revealing too personal info of others without consent etc etc)
    hansolo: I think embargo still make sense. It’s the overall marketing strategy by the company. It’s their news anyway. If they want to embargo until a certain date, respect their wishes. Its always good to have good working relationship with companies. You never know what inside scoops they might give you. 🙂

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