WSJ’s new embargo policy

PaidContent is reporting that the Wall Street Journal will not accept embargoes unless they are exclusives or unless the story is considered big enough.

Previously the WSJ typically did not want to be briefed until 48 hours prior and has been good at holding to embargo times. It seems they have now become frustrated at playing by the rules only to have the embargo break early. The WSJ refreshes much of its content at 12.00am ET (which is when most embargoes are set to as a result). If the embargo broke, they often got scooped. We’ve seen wires and well respected publications break embargoes (some ‘by accident’).

The issue here is that the traffic goes to the publication which goes first so there is an incentive to break the embargo and burn the relationship with the agency and company/companies involved. As competition for traffic (and ad revenue) intensifies, this makes embargoes more fragile. I talk more about the use of embargoes here.

The challenge for PR teams will be in understanding what makes a story ‘big enough’. And also what constitutes an exclusive. The WSJ already gets its fair share of sector exclusives but I imagine the competitive sphere is starting to broaden and will vary with each story.

[via Brian Solis who has more thoughts on the impact on PR programs here.]