Michael Arrington: Evil Genius

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington writes today that he’s tired of the running joke that is the PR embargo system and that they won’t be respecting embargoes in the future except from a handful of trusted PR firms.

He claims that TechCrunch never breaks embargoes, which is completely untrue I might add (they broke the Mahalo story embargo this week by about 20 minutes), but then goes moral on the broken system and why they’re no longer going to play unless they get posts exclusively.

I can’t help at first glance but agree with the points he makes: the system is broken, most PR reps do nothing to enforce embargoes and we’ve actually had a policy in place here for some time that we ask PR reps who regularly don’t enforce embargoes on stories we spend time on to remove us from their list (AOL is one company we no longer cover for example).

But that’s not the real intention of the post. Strip away the moral indignation and you get a very clever play to get TechCrunch more content.

You see if most of TechCrunch’s main competitors wrote that they would ignore embargoes in the future, they’d find their inboxes slowly dry up as PR reps exclude them from pre-briefs and embargoed distributions. But TechCrunch is different. PR firms compete for headlines on TechCrunch, and are regularly told by their clients that they must get a post on TechCrunch, and I know this from having spoken to PR reps during my time writing for TechCrunch, and even more recently.

The decision to ignore embargoes by TechCrunch may mean they miss out on a few stories, but the real result will be that TechCrunch will be offered more exclusives, and TechCrunch’s competitors will miss out on a fair shot of running the story at the same time.

Moral indignation as a ploy to get more exclusive stories and drive more traffic. Touche Michael, Touche. Brilliant play. Evil Genius.