Not so Fast: Using a Media Embargo for Enhanced Coverage

In this age of “always on” media coverage, it’s interesting to review the use of the “not so fast” media embargo. For those unfamiliar with this methodology, a media embargo involves sending a press release to a reporter “under embargo.” The reporter agrees not to write on the news before it is distributed across the wire, and in return gets an opportunity to better frame the information.


Viewpoints Over the years, opinions have shifted about utilizing a media embargo. While some see it as an outdated stranglehold in the age of digital media, others argue for the benefit of thoughtful coverage. These advocates note that the head start gives a journalist time to fully prepare the story and present developed finished product. This is especially important in health journalism, where stories are complex and often require thoughtful consideration of research, development and findings.

Strategy The most obvious use of a media embargo is for exciting news such as the introduction of pioneering new technology. Embargos can also be used for general news, such as the initiation of a new study. For major news, the chosen journalist is privileged to receive the information as an exclusive. For other news, sending a release under embargo may whet the appetite of an otherwise less interested writer. For public companies with material news, it is important to understand the regulations and requirements. At LaVoieHealthScience, our integrated IR and PR practice ensures communications compliance.

Timing There is an inverse relationship between the length of the news embargo and the importance of the news. For example, LaVoieHealthScience secured national media coverage for an innovative hearing device based on a one-day hold. In another example, this time for a kick-off to a Burden of Disease study, the embargo was timed over the weekend.

Experience Of course, the use of a media embargo can pose a risk as not all journalists stand ready to honor the quid pro quo. Therefore it’s important to have an established relationship with reporters to whom you offer a “first look.”

LaVoieHealthScience is all-in for life and health science companies. With 15 years of experience delivering strategic communications, we know how to amplify your business success. Contact us today to learn more about how we help our clients present their news in a timely fashion.