Tuesday, 15 December 2009

# 114 Embargo Off!

What's with all the bloody embargoes?

If you're a dedicated beauty editor keen to go after the strongest possible story, the suspicious spate of recent embargoes will have ticked you off too.

There's nothing more frustrating than being sent all the relevant information for a new launch only to have it chased with an email from the PR, stating that nothing is to be mentioned until a given date (which is several weeks later than the print date you're actually working towards).

I had my first embargo burn while working at an EMAP weekly - and a rival weekly at another publishing house ignored the embargo on a Dior palette, printing their exclusive the day after ours would have run. I could have foamed at the mouth. By obeying the embargo while the other journo ignored it, I essentially lost a bit of credibility with my editor.

The trend started with certain fragrance houses & new-to-the-UK lines, then moved towards prestige & premium cosmetics & face creams... but now it's running away with itself, and I've seen embargoes applied to D-list bath lines, a pair of tweezers and a self-published diet book.

The final straw came last week when the exclusive I'd been promised by a brand new British make-up line was overruled by a US PR, who took the brand's launch direct to a top US magazine (it launches in the UK and US simultaneously) - which then negated the story I'd sold into another US magazine. The UK PR was left playing catch-up (and apologising profusely), while I lost out on yet another stellar story courtesy of the last-minute embargo slap.

Then today, an email about 'The Big Green Boob Survey' - which involves an online magazine asking a series of women what they want from an 'ethical bra' and then challenging a manufacturer to come up with the goods. I've read the press release twice and I'm still confused about the premise. There are now so many fair-trade and ethical companies producing beautiful underwear... the idea feels rather defunct. Yet, it's also (apparently) a story worthy of a strict embargo. Tits!

It seems that brands have been misled into believing that embargoes generate BUZZ...

... in my experience, they only ever result in bored beauty editors. And the knowledge that if something is embargoed (and interesting), it's already being written about elsewhere, and earlier, which is reason enough for me to assign my page-space to something else entirely.

Embargo? I say No Go.


Michelle (BeautyEditor.ca) said...

I've seen the same thing happen here - and yes, all the embargo-mania is a bit silly. I've also been told MANY times that I can't write about something "yet" because the US has the exclusive. WTF? I don't see why they need to rule over magazines in Canada or anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

What happens if you ignore the embargo?

Miss Malcontent said...

You get blacklisted; dis-invited; told off; ignored; shunned by the PR... or just made to feel really, really bad :(

And I've had colleagues who have tried to plead ignorance: "I just didn't know it had an embargo date! I'm SO sorry!" - and that goes down like a lead balloon too (and takes your name down the priority list with it)...

Not a nice business.

britishbeautyblogger said...

OMG DON'T start me on embargos. Stupid, annoying and pointless as most of it is all over the internet anyway. I have started not paying heed to embargos (and in fact in one instance the PR expressly refused to supply images even though the product was splashed all over the brand's US site) and have had a very pursed lip reaction. Jeeez its only lipstick, people! If it was national security, I'd get it. Embargoes are just a way of controlling the media (despite these days of desperation for coverage) and being able to keep a tight reign on who says what, when and where is a thing of the past. Grrr! Seriously I do not care if I go to the bottom of the pile or if I never receive another product or release...there are millions of beauty products - one or two won't make or break anything.

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