The death of the PR embargo has moved a step closer with the announcement by a major US site that it is going to break the embargo on every release it receives – even if it has agreed to honour it. The move by TechCrunch co-editor Michael Arrington appears to be because he has been frustrated by smaller sites breaking embargoes ahead of the agreed release date.
The issue has become a major one in Australia too, with The Age currently serving a six month ban from receiving news of new research from medical journal The Lancet after breaching an embargo. Free newspaper mX has also admitted that it deliberately busts embargoes.
Opponents of embargoes complain that as well as the difficulty of enforcing them, they give PRs too much control over the story. But the argument in their favour is that they give journalists the time to research stories properly and negotiate space with their editors.
TechCrunch rival ReadWriteWeb has wasted no time taking the opposite point of view, and offering PRs a safe haven for their embargoed stories.
Meanwhile, the deteriorating relationship between the editors of major web sites and PRs was also demonstrated when Wired editor Chris Anderson published online a list of those who had sent him irrelevant press releases.
However, the frustration can work both ways. Gizmodo reports today on a PR who challenged a journalist to a fist fight when he asked to be taking off the mailing list.
Update: Meanwhile, Australia-based PR practitioner Kayleigh Ford argues that blanket emailing of press releases rarely works.