The embargo is dead? Not so fast…

Dave Winer on the embargo is dead meme that’s been talked about on several blogs lately.

Interesting points. I don’t think the embargo is going to die anytime soon. It’s just too engrained in how PR people think they need to release news.

Lots of marketing and PR people look at the success Steve Jobs has had at Apple and are jealous so they’ll copy his system of “shock and awe.” That requires embargoes. Why? Well, if you want a magazine to talk about your product on Monday at the same time you’re announcing it, that means talking to that magazine’s journalists a week in advance.

Or, if you want video on the ScobleShow, I need a few hours in advance.

“Just announce it on your blog,” I can hear you saying. That way everyone knows about it at the same time. That’s true if you only care about blogs. But, the real prize is the bigger audience that TV, print journalism, radio, and even Web video needs.

One thing I told Intel: start with the Z list. They are more believeable than any one higher in the stack. We’re all checking with Z listers anyway to see if a story is real or not. Or to get quotes.

29 thoughts on “The embargo is dead? Not so fast…

  1. To return to my analogy, an embargo is just a tool, in the same way doing a press tour, or holding a reviewers workshop is a tool. Dave makes good points, and the embargo is changing for sure based on the wealth of ways to communicate today — but there are times when it makes sense.

    It’s not limited to mainstream media either — for techcentric news, we’ve asked for embargos with bloggers — some say yes and other no.

  2. To return to my analogy, an embargo is just a tool, in the same way doing a press tour, or holding a reviewers workshop is a tool. Dave makes good points, and the embargo is changing for sure based on the wealth of ways to communicate today — but there are times when it makes sense.

    It’s not limited to mainstream media either — for techcentric news, we’ve asked for embargos with bloggers — some say yes and other no.

  3. Robert is right when he says that the embargo isn’t going away anytime soon. But that’s because the embargo is actually a pretty effective marketing tool. Sure, embargoes leak. Sure, they piss off some people. But they also generate a massive amount of mainstream press coverage that blogs can’t even touch. And it’s so not even close, too. When we “launched” OpenSolaris, we did it with 150 engineering blogs giving tours through 10 million lines of their kernel code. Perfect for well-connected and pretty high end OS developers. But would the mainstream press cover that in any comprehensive way at all? Or even understand it? Naaaa. Even though opening the company’s core product has changed Sun from top to bottom, most of the press — even the tech press — would have missed it or missed most of it. When we opened Java just a few weeks ago, there were many, many Java and Sun bloggers out there, but they didn’t generate the press coverage that marketing did with their so-called old school tools and techniques. Perhaps it’s because Java and Solaris are pretty high end code bases and not really mainstream consumer products, but I just don’t see bloggers even touching mainstream PR for press impact. And yes, that pisss me off a bit, but I think it’s reality. Maybe it’s because the corporate press industry is pretty closely tied to the corporate PR industry. Who knows. For the most part, Sun’s thousands of bloggers are talking to developers, not the press. Ok, so Sun’s more of an enterprise infrastructure play and not a household brand on store shelves like, say, Microsoft. So, I wonder, what would garner more press attention — (A) Microsoft open sourcing Windows by just letting their bloggers announce it, or (B) having their global PR operation announce it via some embargoed Microsoft launch (but possibly in collaboration with their bloggers). I’d bet on B absolutely any day of the week. I used to be one of those bloggers who thought that blogs would take out mainstream marketing operations, but the longer I blog the less I believe it.

  4. Robert is right when he says that the embargo isn’t going away anytime soon. But that’s because the embargo is actually a pretty effective marketing tool. Sure, embargoes leak. Sure, they piss off some people. But they also generate a massive amount of mainstream press coverage that blogs can’t even touch. And it’s so not even close, too. When we “launched” OpenSolaris, we did it with 150 engineering blogs giving tours through 10 million lines of their kernel code. Perfect for well-connected and pretty high end OS developers. But would the mainstream press cover that in any comprehensive way at all? Or even understand it? Naaaa. Even though opening the company’s core product has changed Sun from top to bottom, most of the press — even the tech press — would have missed it or missed most of it. When we opened Java just a few weeks ago, there were many, many Java and Sun bloggers out there, but they didn’t generate the press coverage that marketing did with their so-called old school tools and techniques. Perhaps it’s because Java and Solaris are pretty high end code bases and not really mainstream consumer products, but I just don’t see bloggers even touching mainstream PR for press impact. And yes, that pisss me off a bit, but I think it’s reality. Maybe it’s because the corporate press industry is pretty closely tied to the corporate PR industry. Who knows. For the most part, Sun’s thousands of bloggers are talking to developers, not the press. Ok, so Sun’s more of an enterprise infrastructure play and not a household brand on store shelves like, say, Microsoft. So, I wonder, what would garner more press attention — (A) Microsoft open sourcing Windows by just letting their bloggers announce it, or (B) having their global PR operation announce it via some embargoed Microsoft launch (but possibly in collaboration with their bloggers). I’d bet on B absolutely any day of the week. I used to be one of those bloggers who thought that blogs would take out mainstream marketing operations, but the longer I blog the less I believe it.

  5. I buy my own everything.
    But back to embargoes: they may be necessary until the SEC changes the rules on releasing material information by public companies. At Intel, we embargoed stuff for that reason. Isn’t Jonathan Schwartz trying to get the SEC to accept online publication as acceptable distribution for public company info?

  6. I buy my own everything.
    But back to embargoes: they may be necessary until the SEC changes the rules on releasing material information by public companies. At Intel, we embargoed stuff for that reason. Isn’t Jonathan Schwartz trying to get the SEC to accept online publication as acceptable distribution for public company info?

  7. Dave: good point.

    For disclosure sake: I just spent my own money on a 17-inch MacBookPro. I spent PodTech’s money on a MacPro. I also bought Parallels and put a copy of Windows XP that I bought at the company store (which is the same as the one you got) and put it on there — I spent $600 in the Microsoft company store the day I left. Admittedly a copy of XP went for $60, instead of about $300 you’d pay in Best Buy, but still, it was my own money.

    I also bought my own Xbox, my own HD-DVD player, my own Sony HDTV, my own screen for my PC (gotta get a new one of those now too).

  8. Dave: good point.

    For disclosure sake: I just spent my own money on a 17-inch MacBookPro. I spent PodTech’s money on a MacPro. I also bought Parallels and put a copy of Windows XP that I bought at the company store (which is the same as the one you got) and put it on there — I spent $600 in the Microsoft company store the day I left. Admittedly a copy of XP went for $60, instead of about $300 you’d pay in Best Buy, but still, it was my own money.

    I also bought my own Xbox, my own HD-DVD player, my own Sony HDTV, my own screen for my PC (gotta get a new one of those now too).

  9. BTW, I never got the copy of XP to work. I ended up copying all the files off the laptop using the MS-DOS command line. The computer is turned off, in a closet. I’ve often felt if MS execs had to install their own product it would quickly improve. It’s not helping them either that reviewers get their stuff for free, and probably get better service too.

  10. BTW, I never got the copy of XP to work. I ended up copying all the files off the laptop using the MS-DOS command line. The computer is turned off, in a closet. I’ve often felt if MS execs had to install their own product it would quickly improve. It’s not helping them either that reviewers get their stuff for free, and probably get better service too.

  11. Another thing — when you received your press copy of Vista, how sure are you that’s the same thing us poor schnooks have to use. Remember what I went through trying to get XP to install, a copy I paid full retail for? I ended up in a hellish support situation with people in India who barely spoke my language, who assumed I was stealing the software. They have set things up so they spend very little money for *their* time, meanwhile wasting my valuable time. Would you find this out if you had a problem with your copy of Vista?

    It’s not a moral thing, people will quickly learn to value the opinion of people who are using the products they use, who have the point of view of a user who spent their own money on it, who dont have access, and therefore aren’t worried about pissing off the people who determine who gets access.

    Your choice — to live inside the bubble and keep going to insider parties, or pay retail and be part of the world everyone else lives in.

    I think I know you well enough. You’re the guy who likes to strike up a conversation with a guy in coach and listen attentively as they tell you their story.

  12. Another thing — when you received your press copy of Vista, how sure are you that’s the same thing us poor schnooks have to use. Remember what I went through trying to get XP to install, a copy I paid full retail for? I ended up in a hellish support situation with people in India who barely spoke my language, who assumed I was stealing the software. They have set things up so they spend very little money for *their* time, meanwhile wasting my valuable time. Would you find this out if you had a problem with your copy of Vista?

    It’s not a moral thing, people will quickly learn to value the opinion of people who are using the products they use, who have the point of view of a user who spent their own money on it, who dont have access, and therefore aren’t worried about pissing off the people who determine who gets access.

    Your choice — to live inside the bubble and keep going to insider parties, or pay retail and be part of the world everyone else lives in.

    I think I know you well enough. You’re the guy who likes to strike up a conversation with a guy in coach and listen attentively as they tell you their story.

  13. Dave: one other thing. Influencers are given test versions all the time. I doubt that Road and Track buys all the cars they review. Consumer Reports does, and that makes Consumer Reports more authoritative in my mind. But, Road and Track does give me looks at new stuff and makes me interested in certain cars.

    I’m not jealous that they get to ride in those cars and I don’t. I do think that having them have access to cars does get more goodwill than bad.

  14. Dave: one other thing. Influencers are given test versions all the time. I doubt that Road and Track buys all the cars they review. Consumer Reports does, and that makes Consumer Reports more authoritative in my mind. But, Road and Track does give me looks at new stuff and makes me interested in certain cars.

    I’m not jealous that they get to ride in those cars and I don’t. I do think that having them have access to cars does get more goodwill than bad.

  15. Dave: good point. But with 50 million bloggers someone is always going to be left on the short end of that stick.

    Personally I’m sending my Zunes back. I find that taking free stuff bends my perception too much (and makes me feel guilty when I write, even though I disclose). I’d rather just buy my own stuff and write about it that way. It’s more pure — that way I’m actually putting my money where my mouth is.

  16. Dave: good point. But with 50 million bloggers someone is always going to be left on the short end of that stick.

    Personally I’m sending my Zunes back. I find that taking free stuff bends my perception too much (and makes me feel guilty when I write, even though I disclose). I’d rather just buy my own stuff and write about it that way. It’s more pure — that way I’m actually putting my money where my mouth is.

  17. Steve Jobs doesn’t rely on embargoes, he creates his own wave. Maybe some people get briefed before-hand, but who cares about what they say — everyone’s focused on the official Apple communication, which is exactly what I recommend. Do your own rollout, let all bloggers have it at the same moment, when it becomes public.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of pissed that if I want to try out the Zune I have to pay for it, but some bloggers already have been given 3 devices. We’re all human, and we all like to think our opinion is important. If giving away all those devices actually creates badwill, was it worth it?

  18. Steve Jobs doesn’t rely on embargoes, he creates his own wave. Maybe some people get briefed before-hand, but who cares about what they say — everyone’s focused on the official Apple communication, which is exactly what I recommend. Do your own rollout, let all bloggers have it at the same moment, when it becomes public.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of pissed that if I want to try out the Zune I have to pay for it, but some bloggers already have been given 3 devices. We’re all human, and we all like to think our opinion is important. If giving away all those devices actually creates badwill, was it worth it?

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