News & Views

How to Email Pitch Embargoed News


Every now and then, clients will have breaking news they are looking to gain media coverage from, but until the day of the official announcement, the news must be kept top secret.

Typically, this information has been a long time in the making. Whether it is announcing billions of dollars secured in new venture capital, or what city Amazon HQ2 will locate to, breaking the story before the official announcement can not only ruin the news, but give you an awful media reputation.

So, in order to make sure the news isn’t broken until the specified date, media relations professionals must work with journalists, under embargo, to guarantee the news will break on time. In journalism, an embargo is defined as a request, by the source, that the information they provide the press will not be published until a certain date or time. To ensure that the news will not be broken ahead of the official announcement, follow these steps:

  1. Client’s rules first: As with any type of communications, the first step is to know your client’s guidelines. Make sure you have the facts of the announcement down, as well as an in-depth understanding of the industry.
  2. Short and sweet: Keep your pitch brief and to the point. Breaking news reporters are flooded with pitches, so making sure you get to the newsworthy point ASAP is extremely important in gaining and keeping the journalist’s attention.
  3. Subject lines matter: If your subject line doesn’t catch a reporter’s eye, you can guarantee they won’t open the email. Leading with the word “news” is a great first step.
  4. Give a hint: When writing your pitch, make sure to lead with the news that you CAN share. A teaser that doesn’t give away the breaking news, but will attract the journalist’s attention is ideal.
  5. Supportive context: Explain who the company is, what they have done, or what this news will mean looking forward. Whatever information you can share that will help to support the announcement should go here.
  6. Propose the embargo: Let the journalist know that you have more news to share, if they agree to your embargo. Unless your client specifically asks for it, don’t share the date that the news is expected to break. With big news, announcement times can often change.
  7. Important – Don’t assume anything: Never assume that a journalist is accepting the terms of your embargo. Do not send anything that is not public knowledge to any journalist until they have already agreed to the embargo in writing.
  8. Sharing time: Upon the journalist’s agreement to your embargo, you can now share the news. Depending on your client, they may want you to send a press release, some facts or even just have a conversation with the journalist on the phone. Again, this is up to your client’s discretion.
  9. In the meantime: Now that the news is in the journalist’s hands, you can connect them with spokespeople, send additional material – whatever you can give them to support the upcoming news. Ideally, this is when the journalist will begin to write their story.
  10. Announcement eve: The day before the announcement, check in with your media leads. Make sure that they have all of the information that they need and that they will not post their story until the exact minute that the announcement is public.
  11. Breaking news: The news is now public! Monitor the media for the stories you’ve been working with journalists on, as well as organic pick-ups. Share these with your client and together, celebrate your wins!

While embargoed news isn’t an everyday occurrence, it is important to have a basic knowledge and an organized approach for when breaking news does come around.

How do you prefer to handle embargoed media? Leave a comment or tweet at us @aboutDCI.

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