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How to Effectively Pitch Embargoes

How To Effectively Pitch Embargoes
  • Embargoed news is news that is shared with a reporter (or reporters) prior to the public release of this information.
  • While many journalists are usually open to embargoes, they need to be presented clearly and strongly align with the unique angle that each journalist has.
  • The top tactics outlined in this article for effectively pitching embargoes: mentioning it in the subject line and getting clear on what can be teased in your pitch.
  • See more PR tips on The TypeBar.

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Dear OnePitch …. For the first time in my career, I have a new challenge: pitch embargoed news. What do I do?

Embargo is a tricky phrase in PR. I’ve seen so many iterations of it, it starts to lose meaning. The first time I saw it, I worked on a national news desk … and an assignment editor had accidentally broken it.

Yeah, it happens. It sucks. Most veteran PR people are shivering right now remembering their own broken embargoes.

But that’s not what you asked…Let’s start with the basics. 

What is an embargo? Essentially, embargoed news is news that is shared with a reporter (or reporters) prior to the public release of this information. Reporters agree to hold the information given to them until a certain time. Often, reporters look for this information, so they can publish a story as soon as the story or news is public. Sometimes, there is simply a press release shared. Other times, an interview may take place or other content (report, photos, etc) is shared.

How to pitch it? It’s tricky. Straight off a newsdesk (and in a new-esque industry), I would have said to just say “embargo” in the subject line. A lot of PR people do that. The problem is, that is not an embargo. 

Similar to Michael Scott declaring BANKRUPTCY. Saying embargo does not equal an embargo.

Your best bet is to develop a very small, specific list of journalists and “tease” the story, asking if they agree to the embargo. If they do (and only if they do) share it. If they don’t … you can either continue to follow up or move on.

But just remember … sometimes it depends on the industry. I used to get away with putting embargo in the subject line because I had relationships with editors in a specific industry and it was fine. Other … more regulated … industries (ahem: finance, startups etc.) need the type of strategy I laid out above. And before you hit send, be sure you and your team agree on what you can and cannot tease in your pitch. Trust me on this one.

 

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Do you have a PR question you’d love to get answered by Tara? Send your question to info@onepitch.co and we’ll make sure to give you all the best advice and tips from the industry PRo herself. Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter, Media Pros(e), to get her unaltered thoughts and recommendations for navigating media relations in today’s world.

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Tara Parsell began her career working as an assistant on a national news desk – where she experienced first-hand what works (and what doesn’t) when pitching media. With more than a decade spent in PR agencies, spanning the fields of healthcare, entertainment, startups, food, etc., Tara focuses on building the story behind the brand. In 2021, she founded Media Pros(e), a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to media relations strategy and coaching.

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