Pre-briefs, Embargoes and Exclusives...oh my!
Jul 28, 2020
We know that it takes more than a press release to get headline media coverage. It's a jigsaw puzzle, and one of the pieces is media relations. Media relations is simply the act of reaching out to the media in a personalized manner. However, I wanted to quickly re-visit, breakdown and explain three different media relations strategies that clients often have questions around: pre-briefings, embargoes and exclusives.
An exclusive is when you give your story to one media publication only, in advance of your announcement. There are pros and cons to this, since you ARE putting all of your eggs in one basket.
- Pros: getting an exclusive is very enticing for a news outlet. It makes them feel more invested in the story and they will be able to cover news that their competitors won’t. In turn, they will likely push their editor harder to get the story to run, which increases your chances of coverage.
- Cons: It’s always risky to put your eggs in one basket. If they decide NOT to run with it, you’re now out of options, since you denied everyone else. So it’s important to make sure that your story is news-worthy and worth being a standalone feature.
If you’re not sure if your story is exclusive-worthy, another option is to hold pre-briefings. A pre-briefing is a PR process that involves speaking to the media about your news BEFORE you officially announce it.
- Pros: This gives multiple reporters a lead on the news and enough time to complete the reporting process, so ideally, you have multiple stories hit the day of your launch. This is important because reporters usually don’t like to write about news after the announcement has hit. Also, by giving reporters an advanced look at an announcement, you’re allowing them the time to write a more in-depth article. This goes in tandem with an embargo, because you will like pre-brief a reporter "under embargo."
- Cons: There is always a risk that the reporter will leak your news early. Try to get a verbal agreement and establish good rapport.
When you show a reporter a press release or share news in advance, it is known as giving it to them “under embargo” – it’s an understanding that they will not write about your story until the press release goes live on the wire, or you give then a date they can "go live." This goes in tandem with "pre-briefs."
- Pros: This gives you the opportunity to share news with the press, while also delaying publication until a specific date and time. This enables companies to determine the timing of their announcements and control their narrative. It's also an added plus that reporters have extra time to prepare their stores, review the material and dig deeper into the subject.
- Cons: A reporter may not honor the embargo and release your news early. Also, a lot of reporters don't like embargoes. Before sending your news, it's best to ask "would you honor an embargo?"
Also: Make sure that when you share a press release under embargo, you note at the top “NOT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL [INSERT DATE AND TIME]
There is no right or wrong media strategy, but important to understand the different strategies available to you.