Embargo pitching is a process that involves sharing information about an upcoming company announcement with the media ahead of time “under embargo.” This gives journalists time to prepare a story before the news goes live (which is when the embargo lifts), leading to quality day-of media coverage and stronger relationships with journalists. To take full advantage of this practice, there are several important tips and tricks of the trade to follow when preparing to pitch an announcement under embargo.
1. DO begin pitching several weeks ahead of the embargo date
These days, journalists are under enormous pressure to meet deadlines and stay ahead of the news cycle despite tightened budgets and understaffed newsrooms. This means that it is essential for PR professionals to work as partners to reporters who may not have a ton of time on their hands. Sharing the upcoming news well in advance, typically 2-3 weeks ahead of the go-live date, is an ideal timeline for most journalists. This timeframe can change depending on the media outlet you’re pitching and may not be possible given the request communicated by the client, but it’s always a good rule of thumb to stay ahead of the game.
2. DON’T overshare
When crafting an embargo pitch, be sure to not give too much away. It’s important to include information from the press release that is most relevant to the reporter you’re reaching out to without laying out the full story. The news is under embargo for a reason, so spilling every exclusive detail could be risky. It’s uncommon, but journalists do break embargoes from time-to-time. Depending on how big the company you’re pitching is, you may not need to give away much at all to capture interest.
3. DO include key information in a clear, readable manner
The perfect embargo pitch needs to display the embargo lift date loud and clear. Bolding or highlighting the announcement date within the email can be helpful. It is also useful to include the word “embargo” in the subject line — this can be eye-catching and will help garner more responses from the media. Even adding key words that align with the reporter’s beat can help get their attention.
4. DON’T embargo pitch something that isn’t newsworthy
Not every piece of news will be worth conducting embargo outreach for. Embargo pitching should be reserved for announcements that are genuinely interesting, such as new product offerings or major company updates. Save thought leadership pitches and small updates for times when your client doesn’t have any major announcements coming up.
5. DO craft a compelling pitch
Your embargo pitch needs to be attention-grabbing and compelling enough to convince journalists to cover the story. Be clear about what the news is, why it’s important, and why it’s relevant to the journalist’s audience. Use strong language and even visuals (if you have them) to help bring your pitch to life — be sure to emphasize any unique angles or exclusive content.
6. DON’T stress if the announcement date shifts
It doesn’t always happen, but it is fairly common for the client to change the announcement date. Being prepared to handle this situation is a crucial step. Don’t freak out! When the date shifts, understand that the reporter is not bound to the new date. They may still post their article once the original date comes around, but most reporters steer clear of this to preserve their relationship with the company. Be sure to communicate clearly with your media targets once the date shifts and set expectations — let them know if there will be any changes to the press release or if further adjustments to the timeframe are expected.
Many reporters appreciate receiving embargo pitches given busy newsrooms and tight schedules, but as with all pitching, make sure you know who you’re reaching out to. Checking the reporter’s latest coverage and understanding their beat is an important step to complete before you hit send on any pitch. Doing so will increase the chances that the journalists you reach out to will accept embargo — which will increase the pieces of coverage the news receives! More coverage = happy clients.
Sharing the news ahead of the announcement date will allow the reporter to gain a deep understanding of the topic and publish a complete, accurate, and detailed article. Following simple Dos and Don’ts when embargo pitching can protect your relationship with the media and lead to quality coverage in highly coveted publications.