20 August 2013 - 07:00
What don’t people understand about ‘strict embargo’?… And why we followed it

The photos were set to be released at a minute past midnight.

The photos were set to be released at a minute past midnight.

The Internet was taken by surprise today as photos of Prince George were officially unveiled shortly after midnight to the world… At least that’s how it would have been if things had gone how they should have.

It is a long established media custom for information and content to be sent out in advance of a release time to journalists so they can create articles and also prepare the next day’s papers without having a frantic rush like it would be if content was immediately released.

This custom is known as an embargo and is used by the Royal Household, most recently yesterday when they sent out the photos of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George.

Embargoes are based on trust and the understanding that this content is being provided in advance for the purposes of preparation, though some people demonstrated their lack of respect and understanding for this yesterday.

The press release for the photos came through at around 5pm yesterday stating that the photos were available but were under strict embargo not to be released until a minute past midnight, hence technically becoming Tuesday’s news. Within ten minutes of the release, a minority of journalists already showed their lack of trustworthiness and respect by attempting to tantalise people with the embargoed information.


I’m not going to name the journalists by name here, but let’s just say based on the publications they work for, no one should have been surprised that they did this.

Through sharing these details, other tweeters began to share the images and information way before the embargo was up, also meaning that the true journalists (who waited, were patient and respected the embargo) were one step behind on the story. The fact of the matter is that through releasing these photos and information early, the fun and surprise of the release has been marred. What would have been a pleasant surprise in the morning papers has turned into just another ordinary reveal.

But the question is, what can be done? – One option is that Kensington Palace could remove the offending journalists from their press list, but would they do this? A second option is they could restrict who the embargoed content goes out to in the first place.

If you have an opinion on the embargo issue, leave us a comment in the box below.

Photo Credit: Michael Middleton

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Edited by Martin

  • MarkISutherland

    Press embargoes are based on trust. If a reporter betrays that trust, they should be off the list, and probably will be. As a PR pro and a reporter, I find myself on both sides of the equation, and the key is always to remember the value of long term relationships, rather than the desire to be first and burn bridges in the process.

    An easy fix is giving the link where the photos are available for download at 5pm, but not making the link live until midnight.

  • jonathanwthomas

    While I did not receive the information in advance (I’m not on the list), it is Anglotopia’s policy to always respect an embargo. They exist for a reason and it’s a violation of trust to break it. Our motto is to never piss anyone off and that applies from Royals to Doctor Who producers.

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