Mike Arrington gave the PR and Tech News wings of the online world a rawhide to chew on yesterday when he wrote this:
We’ve never broken an embargo at TechCrunch. Not once. Today that ends. 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.
Some firms will stop talking to us (yeah! less email), but we’ll find other ways to get the news. Others, who haven’t read this post because they don’t read TechCrunch, will be unpleasantly surprised. Maybe if we cause enough pain then PR firms will start to take action against those publications who break the rules.
There will be exceptions. We will honor embargoes from trusted companies and PR firms who give us the news exclusively, so we know there won’t be any mistakes. There are also a handful – maybe three – people who we trust enough to continue to work with them on general embargoes (if you are a PR person and wondering if you’re on that list, you’re not). But for the vast majority of news we get in our inboxes, we’re just going to fire it off to our readers ad hoc whenever we please.
Here’s why Arrington’s new position will slowly but surely lead to the demise of TechCrunch:
- No one wants to see themselves on TechCrunch: Even the best-intentioned public relations practitioner will now engage in a moment’s pause before including TechCrunch in their plans. They want to see their clients, not themselves, covered on the site. Arrington has already outed one person who, yes, seems to be a bit annoying in her approach. Having lived through a couple of instances of either seeing myself and my approach covered by a blog I had pitched something to or seeing a colleague get eviserated I can tell you it’s not a pleasant experience, even if your a person who is doing it well in general.
- There are options: Despite what clients like to believe, TechCrunch is not the only game in town. Personally I always enjoy the write-ups on Mashable and ReadWriteWeb (the latter of which has, along with Marketing Pilgrim, made it clear they will continue to respect embargoes) a bit more because they give some honest feedback and persepective.
- Every good social media specialist is about to give a lunch-and-learn on best practices: Any in-house (whether at an agency or in a company’s comms department) social media department head worth his salt is about to schedule a company wide training session on what to/not to do when it comes to “pitching bloggers.” If they’re smart they’ll include the fact that it’s about relationships just like in the traditional media world. If you have news that needs to be embargoed you hit the people you know and trust, people who aren’t going to burn you because of the mutually beneficial relationship you have. Embargoes are not good for scattershot tactics. Targeting works best.
- Becoming your own media outlet means never having to worry about embargoes: Tired of playing the embargo game altogether? Start your own blog, your own YouTube channel, etc. Start talking about your company yourself (or advise and help your clients to do so) and build readership there. Create a social media strategy that puts the power in your own hands. The break exciting news yourself. For all the talk about media landscapes changing, this is an oft-overlooked facet of that change. Become your own media outlet. It has tremendous value in the short and long term.