2013 Budget: Evening Standard Breaks Embargo and Leaks Front Page

Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak
Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak

The London Evening Standard came under fire today for breaking the strict embargo placed on the 2013 Budget, as the newspaper published details of the Budget on Twitter before George Osborne took to the dispatch box.

The Standard shared a picture of it’s front page that detailed the 2013 Budget on Twitpic, an image that was picked up by MPs in the House of Commons and Journalists that were covering the 2013 Budget.

While the image was quickly deleted from the social network, the damage was done. Research from Topsy.com (select cached Page) reveals that over 2,000 viewed the image. It also got retweeted by Sky’s Adam Boulton (@adamboultonsky), The New York Times Sarah Lyall (@SarahLyall) and other influential journalists and bloggers.

The paper’s Political Editor Joe Murphy (@JoeMurphyLondon) was forced to issue an apology on Twitter even though it was certainly not him who shared that image. Editor Sarah Sands meanwhile issued the following statement, ‘An investigation is immediately underway into how this front page was made public and the individual who Tweeted the page has been suspended while this takes place. We have immediately reviewed our procedures. We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.’

For some reason Osborne’s advisors chose today, when all eyes would be on him, to unveil his Twitter account. An odd choice of day given the Chancellor’s unpopularity in the polls and how the public share their views online. A very bad call in my opinion.

Twitter is a news channel, one that because of today’s real-time digital age can inflict greater damage. And while embargo’s have been a traditional tool in the armoury of PRs, in today’s digital world it is a public relations professional job to maintain total control of the story, especially a story which contains market sensitive information. Twitter and digital are hard to control. Conditions on the sharing of content online must have been secured.

It’s been a bad day for HM Treasury’s PR team, but a worse one for the Evening Standard.

Twitter is changing public relations. It’s making media outlets more competitive. As some on Twitter have said, The Standard’s story was just ‘too hot off the press’. Don’t take it for granted!



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