Back when I used to write press releases I always struggled to understand the concepts of embargos. I knew that there was some kind of unwritten agreement between PR agents and journalists that somehow governed the world of publicity; but I still thought that PR’s expectation of privacy or patience by the journalists was kind of… expecting a lot. Let’s face it; PR reps have nothing to lose by this agreement while journalists have everything to lose. I chalked it up to the fact that many journalists like to have their stories written ahead of time.

So I got back to thinking about this recently after getting turned down for an interview with The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich author Tim Ferris. I had contacted his PR rep as I thought, and still do, that he would make a great Oddpodz Pole Vaulter candidate. Apparently, I was alone in this opinion. But Amy’s response did raise an eyebrow (figuratively, as I do not possess The-Rock-like skill to raise one eyebrow). At the conclusion of her “We really appreciate your offer…” but not enough to cooperate- email there were three selections with one checked.

Thank you so much for reaching out to us. We wish you all the best in your future projects. Have a great weekend!

– Amy E.

this email is:

[ ] blogable [x] ask first [ ] private

Clearly this raises a multitude of questions: Ask first? Is this a new form of publicist embargo? And if so, is this a request or a demand? Is there any expectation that emails exchanged, relating to business matters and not private ones, would assume any form of privacy?

And does the very assumption that her request be observed actually make a blogger MORE likely to not ask first?

(For the record, I did not “ask first” before writing this.)