Public Relations professionals have to walk a fine line every day. Their job is to spread information, to get the word out – but not too soon. Leaking stories even a few hours early can wreak havoc – as Google found out.

Top ten Public Relations news leaks

The more newsworthy the story, the more disastrous is the result of a leak. Below is an infographic with the top ten press leaks since 2010, all of which were likely the result of someone in the PR chain making a simple mistake.

Multiple points of leakage

Some might say there’s an easy fix: be careful! But it’s not that easy because a news launch is a multi-step process, a chain of communications radiating out from the source. News is shopped around, the topic is routed to editors, stories are written, drafts are reviewed – all while the news is still a closely guarded secret.

But how closely guarded can it be when it is vulnerable at each point to someone accidentally or maliciously letting it slip out? In our mobile world, it is even harder to maintain control as PR pre-news leaves the office on tablets and other devices.

What’s needed: controlled release

New solutions are emerging to help Public Relations professionals share pre-release content without losing control of it. Secure mobile distribution solutions like Qumu’s Signal secure online publishing allow PR professionals to securely send sensitive content to select individuals.The content opens only on their device, and can be restricted further (view only twice, view only till Tuesday, view the first 5 minutes of a video). The content remains encrypted, even on tablets or smart phones.

One Hollywood studio is using Signal to share pre-release movie content with screeners on tablets. Talk show hosts and other screeners can easily prepare for their show with the movie’s star without the studio risking a digital copy slipping out and spoiling opening night.

There’s no silver bullet here – there will continue to be mistakes made and secrets spoiled. But tools like Signal give PR professionals more control over their story, further down the release chain.