Dissecting the Facebook iPad App Embargo

Some people say the news embargo is dead. I say there is a time and a place for everything.

Case in point: On Monday, Facebook launched its long-awaited and lusted after iPad app. A funny thing happened at around 4 p.m. ET that day: a flood of stories on the new app popped at exactly the same time.

Coincidence? Not in the least. Rather, it was the result of a carefully controlled move by Facebook PR to give the news early to trusted journalists and allow those reporters enough time to write stories in advance.

Out of curiosity, I did a bit of digging to see who was given the news early. The New York Times, Inside Facebook, This Is My Next, All Facebook and GigaOM all appear to be among the chosen ones who enjoyed the additional influx of traffic from breaking the news. Among the many not included was The Wall Street Journal, which put a stake in the ground back in 2009 against embargoes. I also noticed a tweet from a reporter earlier in the day complaining he was not included in the embargo, but he’s since mysteriously deleted the tweet. Can’t say I blame him. It’s nice to be part of the cool crowd… or at least appear to be!

At Bateman Group, we advise our clients to still use embargoes wisely. For example: Are you launching a new company? Or a really innovative product or upgrade to your existing product? Or a significant round of funding? If so, an embargo may be the most effective way to announce it. But insisting on a strict embargo for less newsworthy Tier 2 or Tier 3 announcements and you may very well be met with virtual eye rolls from reporters.

Like all things in life, everything in moderation. This reporter would likely agree: