A press release submitted under embargo is a document that you share with media outlets ahead of pre-scheduled publishing. Unlike standard press releases, journalists and editors are expected to wait until the stated time to publish the press release content.
Founded on mutual trust, embargo press releases are a useful way to build anticipation, create maximum impact, and ultimately boost traction, especially when the press release is scheduled for publication to coincide with a specific event, like a product launch or website update.
To navigate drafting and distributing a press release submitted under embargo, we compiled the most important details about the process from start to finish. This guide will cover:
What are the main types of embargo press releases?
PR specialists often share a press release under embargo with a journalist to provide enough time to prepare a coverage article. In turn, the journalists typically expect the press releases to be submitted at least 24 hours before the embargo deadline.
Examples of when you might apply an embargo to a submitted press release might include:
- When you’re about to launch a unique product. You might choose to use an embargo if the launch coincides with a holiday, or you’re holding an in-person event to mark it. An embargo gives you time to let reporters sample the product and offer feedback.
- When you’re working with government agencies. If you’ve partnered with, or are offering services to, a government agency, you might be instructed to use an embargo while officials prepare formal press responses.
- When you’re working with a prominent figure. If you’re collaborating with a celebrity, for instance, you might use an embargo to ensure the press release is published alongside a social media campaign.
- When you want to share news with employees first. If embarking on a merger, you may want time to communicate with your team before the official announcement.
- When you want to give a reporter exclusive access. If you have a relationship with a particular reporter, you might want to give them access ahead of a general release.
What should be included in an embargo press release?
Press releases are short news announcements sent to targeted media outlets in the hopes of securing wider publication. Press releases are specifically designed to be short and objective while still delivering useful information.
An embargo press release is no different than a standard press release, except that it explicitly includes an embargo date that specifies when the news can be published.
When putting together an embargoed press release, there are important things you need to be sure to include in order to hook your readers.
First and foremost, like any good press release, the “5 Ws” are an integral component. These provide the critical information readers will need to know. What are the 5 Ws?
- Who: Explains who the press release is about.
- What: Describes what the press release is announcing.
- When: Details when the focus of the announcement is taking place.
- Where: Lists the location of where the focus of the announcement is taking place.
- Why: Explains why the news is important currently.
How do you write and format an embargo press release?
Writing an embargoed press release is straightforward, but they need to be formatted in a particular way to be effective. We also suggest that you only apply an embargo when it actually needs to be used—an embargo doesn’t guarantee more coverage.
The most important thing about formatting an embargoed press release is to clearly define the embargo and highlight the date and time the embargo is lifted. Also, consider specifying the appropriate time zone, as embargos can confuse journalists working in other countries.
Laying out the press release
Press releases are laid out like news articles, using a structure commonly referred to as the “inverted pyramid.” This means the most important information is relayed first, with supplemental details shared further down.
Follow the outline below to help guide you in drafting your own embargo press release:
- Embargo announcement: At the top, write “Under Embargo Until” along with the specified release date. Format this in red to ensure media contacts don’t miss it.
- Title: Explain specifics of the embargoed announcement in as few words as possible.
- First paragraph: Cover the 5 Ws and establish the “hook” of the press release.
- Second and third paragraph: Provide more details on the embargoed announcement and place the announcement in a broader context.
- Fourth paragraph: Add a quote from a member of the issuer’s leadership team.
- Fifth paragraph: Add useful information to round out the announcement.
- Boilerplate: Give a short overview of the issuing organization (a useful tip is to copy-paste this from the “About” section of the organization’s website).
- Contact info: Provide the name and email of who will handle press queries. You can also provide a phone number, but it’s optional.
Getting press release basics right
Reporters tend to have a love/hate relationship with embargoed content. This is because business leaders often apply embargos to press releases that don’t need them.
In fact, it’s not been altogether unheard of for various publications to break embargos altogether. While they are largely respected, some publications (typically tabloid papers) even have a tendency to push boundaries on the unspoken agreements.
Once an embargo has been broken, other publications might quickly break the embargo as well to keep up with competition. Therefore, structuring your press release right is vital. You always want to prove to journalists and editors that you know when to use an embargo correctly.
Here are basic touch points you need to remember when writing an embargoed press release:
- Always lead with the embargo notice. Clearly state the date, time, and time zone that the news is embargoed until.
- Write it like a news article. Writing a press release should be approached in the same manner as a journalist writing a news article.
- Write it in third person. It should be written from the point-of-view of an independent observer, which means no “I” or “me” pronouns.
- Keep it short. Aim for one page of printed copy.
- Keep it neutral. Avoid hyperbolic terms like “disrupting” or “revolutionizing.” The prose should be serious and restrained.
- Think carefully about the target audience. Are you talking to a business audience or the general public? Use language that appeals to audience knowledge level.
- Consider media outlets you’re sending to. Consider the type of information that would be most interesting to those media contacts or their readers.
Creating the press release “hook”
A good press release does so much more than just relay announcement details. In reality, it packages information around a “hook” that keeps the reader interested.
So when it comes to embargoed press releases, the hook needs to be impactful. It has to highlight what’s at stake or what impact will be created once the news is announced.
What is an example of an embargo press release?
Below is an excerpt from a press release about an upcoming sporting feature from GameOn.
As you can see, the embargo is clearly defined prior to the first paragraph. What’s more, the opening sentence answers the 5 Ws.
***Press release under embargo until 23rd June, 2022***
GameOn Launches First-of-its-Kind MLB Fan Engagement Focused Chat Experience with Milwaukee Brewers
Brewers fans will experience more rich content and engagement through Facebook Messenger
SAN FRANCISCO – June 23, 2022 – GameOn Technology, the industry-leading conversational applications platform, and the Milwaukee Brewers announced today that through Brewers Facebook Messenger, fans will have the ability to enjoy a streamlined and interactive experience through live game updates, scores, highlight videos and player specific information while using the chat application. In addition, fans will be able to access additional rich content including the team’s YouTube videos, new podcasts and blogs in one easy-to-access place. This new conversational platform will utilize technology in a unique way that has not yet been used by an MLB team.
“Baseball fans, self-included, love to chat before, during and after the game. Part of being a fan is sharing how you feel with your baseball community,” said Alex Beckman, CEO and co-founder, GameOn Technology. “When fans want to chat with their favorite team or their fellow fans, we believe their experience should be fun, easy and fast. GameOn Technology has taken customer obsession to new heights in 2022 in delivering next-gen user experiences that are as rewarding for fans. We’re excited to be working with a forward-thinking, fan-first organization to push the limits of fan engagement and offer a solid user experience utilizing technology.”
When sending a press release like this to media outlets, we suggest including a brief introduction explaining what the press release is about and highlighting the embargo. Also, state that it’s under embargo in the subject line of the email, just for added insurance.
Want to know more about press releases? Check out our guides here:
CEO announcement press release
Acquisition announcement press release
New partnership press release
Embargo press release template
Want to know more about writing the perfect embargoed press release? Download our template here.
How do you send out your embargo press release?
When it comes to sending out an embargoed press release, you have two options. Either you use a press release wire service or you send it out manually to targeted media outlets.
Also known as newswires, this is distribution you pay for. These platforms send press releases on your behalf to a database of media outlets, many of which are publications the newswires have syndication agreements with—meaning you’re guaranteed at least some coverage.
The downside is, these services can be costly and you have little control over what publications your press release is shared with.
Manual press release pitching
By doing your own outreach, however, you have control over the types of journalists and publications to target. What’s more, you might be able to build lasting rapport with the media contacts by reaching out to them directly.
Though this method might take a little more time, new technology has emerged that can help you connect with reporters much quicker.
Wrapping up embargoed press releases
Knowing how to produce an embargoed press release can be useful. It can give a publication time to prepare and ensure that a complex story is covered the right way. In addition, when released at the right time, embargoed news can really boost exposure.
However, remember to think carefully about whether an embargo is actually necessary and make sure that you format the press release correctly.
If you really want to make sure you cover all your PR strategy bases and create a quality embargo press release, Intelligent Relations can help. Work with a team of specialists who can make sure your embargo press release has the greatest possible impact.