This first ran a while back, but it seems to still be a problem. So I thought I'd reheat it for you -
For A Few Dollars MoreSo, some interesting watch news came out these past few weeks which you did not, and will not read about here.
Brand PR staff as well as press agencies sent press releases under strict embargo. They dressed these announcements with sugary phrases like "we really appreciate all of your support" and "we think you're really swell!"
Now what I and many of my colleagues in the fourth and fifth estate have come to discover is that, in fact, the reason for the embargo or intentional delay in sending the press release is because Brand X has, in some instances made an advertising deal with another outlet and part of that advertising deal is not only that Brand X pays a fee to run / promote the brand's item, but they lock down a media black out for everyone else, therefore conveying sense that they are somehow "more in the know", better connected, etc. And of course when you get the release and post it 1, 2 or even 3 days in advance of everyone else, it would be reasonable to assume that you are somehow better informed.
An exclusive, gentle reader, is the idea that a writer has cultivated a special relationship with a brand, and owing to this, the brand trusts that one writer or outlet to handle their exclusive story or announcement. Now in the "good old days", that meant communication, effort, hard work and sharing on both parts. And if you were a big dog that might also mean that some money might have changed hands - but the idea of an exclusive meant that only one outlet would have the item. And I think that is fair enough. But an exclusive did not mean that the brand or agency would pay for the exclusive advance release, and then send the EXACT SAME RELEASE with the intention of paying one big outlet, and expecting everyone else to "carry the water". It's a bit disingenuous and is guaranteed to engender a less-than warm and fuzzy feeling.
To be VERY CLEAR - this is not a judgment about any outlet and how they go about doing their business. This is very much up to them, and if they can build a better mousetrap? Well more power to them. But to the brand representatives and pr agencies, don't expect the rest of us to wag our tails like little puppies under the dinner table waiting for the scraps to fall onto the floor. We work just as hard, and many of us do it for free. Don't be shocked or surprised when we don't want to roll on our backs and show you our tummies.
Either do an exclusive or don't, but don't half-ass it.