Embargo Breaking; the new trend.
December 29, 2006
Right now is considered the heat of the auto show season. We’re just around the corner from seeing what are arguably the most important product launches of the year, and what happens? To spoil the suspense and surprise of the reveals, media outlets start violating embargoes that are set by companies so that the cat isn’t let of the bag early. There’s more, those who break the embargoes will likely not have any punishment.
For those who are not savvy in how automotive journalism works, let me explain. All automotive companies give certain media outlets access to information and photographs of products they are going to release at an upcoming auto show early. There is a specific date and time on all of that information as to when it can go public. Why do they do this? Simply to allow print publications and certain websites time to get everything set up and ready to release.
About two years ago there was a big leak on the 2005 GM Product Information Guide. At the time, GMI and many other enthusiast forums were granted embargo access. Well, about a week before the embargo was to be lifted GM’s webmasters screwed up and put all the information on the GM Media website, allowing every average Joe that knew about that site to access it. Of course, they posted it anywhere they could, including GMI. In a sorry attempt to cover their rear-ends, GM Media blamed website forums like GMI for the leak. Saying we (among other forums) allowed the information to be released, and were responsible for the leak. So naturally, GM Media took embargo access away from all forums, including GMI. Along with that, they also revoked all media accounts by forum leaders from the GM Media website. Wasn’t that nice of them?
So fast-forward to right now and we have a similar situation, but this time the outcome will be different; that can almost be guaranteed. Just a short day ago Edmunds released information and photos of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, which was supposedly embargoed until January 2nd, since then other websites have also released the information and photos. I really don’t think Edmunds is to blame here, but rather print media. Some magazines got to print early, publishing the embargoed information and letting the public have it prior to the embargo lift. This is a sorry attempt to one-up online media since magazines are slowly becoming extinct. Rightfully so, as anyone can get up to the minute updates on websites like GMI and Edmunds; all for free.
In a nutshell, this is what I’m ranting about: GM is failing to understand that Internet is the new media, and the “big-deal” in automotive journalism. That, or they just don’t really care, and the big print companies mean more than their most valuable fans/viewers. And another thing, those who have violated GM’s embargoes this year will likely not loose their embargo access like forums did two years ago for something they didn’t do. Strangely enough, it’s the forums that always followed the embargoes more so than the larger companies, because we valued the privilege of not having to rush, rush, rush to get new product information posted when it is released on the media website to the public at midnight.
OK, I'm done ranting.