Some of the top public relations and marketing officials from General Motors recently held a "summit" of sorts to take a look at the issue of press embargoes, their enforcement, and their relevance.
While I was not present at said summit above, I have some strong feelings and opinions on the subject, having worked in both digital and print media, and currently occupying a position that requires me to try to integrate these two branches of the same brand for nine distinct titles.
But I think it's the very concept of "two branches off the same tree" that often gets lost in the conversation. Granted, the site in question that contributed to the controversy and the summit, does not have an equivalent print media counterpart, but I think the point I'm about to make is relevant regardless.
Most credible consumer automotive magazines have a corresponding website. Yet I personally deal with this sometimes uneasy tension between the print and online staff about what can be put up when, etc.
In my ideal world, it would work thusly: Online would get the breaking, time-sensitive news, and the magazine would be a more in-depth look at recent (not necessarily "breaking") events pertinent to the target audience, and general-interest, non-time-sensitive stories. Therefore, the whole idea of having a "print" embargo would be irrelevant. Automakers and other companies would simply hold a press conference, and realize that as soon as they hold a conference or pull back the proverbial covers, the information and images will probably be online in a matter of hours, if not minutes. That's simply the world we live in. Trying to fight the mind-blowing speed of online media is futile.
Honestly, from what I've observed, the biggest source of tension (and contention) between online and print editorial staffs is the persistent "us versus them" mentality. Granted, I have made limited progress in inviting print participation on the site and on the blogs & forums, but there is still a "that's not my job" mentality among many print editors about participating on the website. Strangely, I don't see a corresponding reluctance on part of the online staffs to contribute to the magazine, rather, more often, an eagerness.
I don't know what it's going to take to break that glass wall between the two sides, but I think it starts with strong, progressive, decisive editorial and managerial leadership realizing the importance of optimizing the synergies between these two branches, and forming them into one cohesive, coherent brand. I'm doing my part, but I hope there are others above me that feel the same way.