If you’re in the tech industry, especially in tech PR, then you’ve heard about the latest announcement from TechCrunch: “Death to the Embargo.” Gone are the days of pre-briefs, big bang launches, and exclusives…at least on TechCrunch. Michael Arrington’s 879 word diatribe explains the sequence of events, from cell phone stalking to a rise in the number of broken embargoes, that lead his team to choose this new approach when working with public relations:
“From now our new policy is to break every embargo. We’ll happily agree to whatever you ask of us, and then we’ll just do whatever we feel like right after that. We may break an embargo by one minute or three days. We’ll choose at random.”
It’s 10:30pm Wednesday night, hours after the post originally published and it’s still the top story on Techmeme, has over 200 (and growing) heated comments on the post itself, and of course the Twittersphere was (and still is) abuzz. Whether or not you agree with Michael’s decision to break any embargo he receives, this is now the state of affairs and companies in conjunction with their PR teams will have to adjust accordingly. The choice is either, give TC your news early knowing they might publish early, and risk burning bridges with other publications’; OR, take a chance bringing TC “stale” news, and wait to pitch them after your embargo date.
Debate over whether this decision is right/wrong/ethical/necessary will likely continue, but what this really points to is the larger trend that the news-media landscape is changing. We’ve already seen how news consumption has evolved–first via online versions of print publications, then blogs, social networks and now microblogs–and these changes are inevitably forcing editors to adapt, in whatever way they see fit, to an increasingly competitive landscape.