Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Embargoes and more: How to get journalists’ attention in a wired world

with 4 comments

Evidently, I can’t say it enough: PR folks, please don’t call to make sure I got your email.

That was my first tip yesterday when I had the pleasure of appearing on a panel at the Council of Science Editors meeting in Baltimore with JAMA’s Jann Ingmire and WCG’s Brian Reid, moderated by Bill Silberg. Bill had asked the three of us to talk about media outreach in a crazy wired world. Since the topic intersects with embargo policies, I’m posting my slides here (scroll down a bit to see the entire first slide and navigation, below the CSE banner):

I look forward to feedback from press officers, reporters, scientists, and any other players in our little ecosystem.


Written by Ivan Oransky

May 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. I would have loved to have participated in this seminar – personally, as as press attaché, I hate sending irrelevant releases to journalists, and therefore do my best to avoid it. It’s a lose-lose situation.

    Presentations such as these help me personalized my approach and draw my attention to details that I wouldn’t necessarily have noticed from my angle.

    Here’s a question – you mention “don’t have an embargo that’s too short.” What about an embargo that’s too long? Quite often I’m aware of research up to six weeks before it will be “published” online.


    William Raillant-Clark
    International Press Attaché, Université de Montréal

    • Hi William, thanks for the question. If you’re aware of something that has a definite publication date, there’s no such thing as too long an embargo, in my opinion. The problem is often that journals don’t coordinate their online publication well, so they say it will be online in “about six weeks.” Then, lo and behold, it appears without anyone in the press or editorial office knowing. That irritates reporters who agreed to an embargo for no apparent reason. So make sure you have a definite embargo date before offering something under embargo, long or short.


      May 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm

  2. Ivan, I appreciate all your insight on this topic. Without offering an “exclusive” to a journalist, I’m wondering if you think it’s better to pitch with an embargo or send a release the day of online publication in advance of print. Would really appreciate your feedback.

    Nancy Cawley Jean

    May 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    • Hi Nancy — for better or worse, reporters do seem more likely to respond to embargoed press releases. I’m as likely to respond to papers that weren’t embargoed, as long as the data are solid, but I may be in the minority, based on what gets covered. And to be fair, an embargo would give someone more time to report on something without the fear of getting scooped.

      No matter what you do, however, make sure you ask whether a reporter will agree to an embargo first.Sending something and saying it’s embargoed doesn’t make it so, as I’ve noted before: https://embargowatch.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/youre-doing-it-wrong-sending-material-and-calling-it-embargoed-before-an-agreement-doesnt-make-it-so/

      And always have the paper available for anyone who asks, embargoed or not.


      May 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

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