Glossary of PR and Marketing Terms
Having a glossary in PR and marketing terms at your fingertips is an important tool for marketers and media relations professionals. It’s also important for the clients they serve to understand the industry lingo so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to PR and marketing assignments.
For instance, understanding media terms is an important step to ensure you are prepared for a conversation or interview with a member of the media. One example is when we refer to making a statement, “off the record.” What does this mean to the reporter? That is what matters most.
Including in this glossary of PR and marketing terms are general terms used in public relations and marketing in the profession and by members of the media.
General PR and Marketing Terminology
Advertising: Paid placements about an offering that inspires a response (call to action) by the recipient of the message to drive profits.
AP Style: A preferred style for drafting, reviewing and editing all written public relations copy. http://www.apstylebook.com/.
Branding: Branding is the process of defining and presenting a company’s mission/purpose, vision, culture and what the company delivers.
B-roll: B-roll is background or secondary video footage, often used as cutaway material, to provide context and visual interest to a visual story.
Boilerplate: A boilerplate is the standard block of text used at the end of the press release. Your boilerplate should be consistent and used for all press releases. It should be reviewed and, if necessary, updated at least quarterly. The boilerplate should contain a brief description of your organization and should always be included in press releases sent to the media or issued on news wires.
Call to action (CTA): Call to action is the language or visual that used to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act (e.g., click here, contact us).
Cause marketing/CSR/ESG: In general, cause marketing is the task of establishing a connection with the community, while raising and maintaining the company’s public profile as involved community stewards focused on a particular cause, corporate social responsibility or ESG initiatives. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance.
Community relations: The acts of building relationships with constituent publics such as schools, charities, clubs and activist interests in the geographies where an organization operates.
Content marketing: Content marketing is the act of curating or creating valuable thought leadership content and sharing it across channels such as the company’s website, email communications, social media sites, etc.
Crisis communication: Protecting and defending an individual, company or organization facing a public challenge to its reputation. These challenges can involve legal, ethical or financial standing.
Earned media: Earned media is unpaid, third-party content that mentions your company, products, services or individuals typically obtained through media relations.
Editorial calendar: An editorial calendar is a schedule of topics to be covered by a publication over a period of time or to be written about by your company for articles, blogs, newsletters, social media posts, etc.
Headline: A headline is a short, concise and catchy description of an article, press release, blog, or other written communication too. The headline must entice the recipients to read your release but should not be quirky or silly.
Marketing: Marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research, advertising, public relations, and all forms of communications.
Media relations: Media relations is a valuable communications tool to help companies or individuals gain credibility and establish validity via earned media placements.
Newswire: Newswires are news distribution tools that help to generate awareness about your company’s news.
Owned media: Owned media is original content created and owned by an organization and published in publicly-accessible channels.
Paid media: Paid media are the placements in media outlets and on websites that are paid for and sponsored by a company or individual such as advertising or advertorials.
Paywall: The tool that restricts access to a website by unpaid users thus encouraging visitors to pay to subscribe to the site.
Public relations: Public relations is the art and science of proactive advocacy by a company, individual, or brand. It requires strategic management of your position statement and key messages to reach your target audience, and through various tactics, to establish goodwill and mutual understanding. Effective use of public relations tools allows you to shape public opinion, attitudes, and beliefs. Public relations is much like crafting a pitch for prospective clients or internal stakeholders: you will painstakingly strategize about what data to present, which heartstrings (if any) you want to tug, the tempo and timing of your delivery, and the information you deliver last to achieve a lasting impact.
Reputation management: Reputation management is the intentional acts of communicate messages and information designed to positively influence public opinion about a company, product, situation or individual.
Sub-headline: A sub-headline can be useful when used properly. For example, in a press release (described below), the subhead provides an opportunity to incorporate a news angle and further catch the reporter’s attention without taking away from the headline.
Talking points: Talking points are key messaged organized in way that relevant facts and information can be disseminated to a target audience such as employees, clients or media outlets before meetings or interviews.
Types of Public Relations Documents
Advertorial: An advertorial is an advertisement or sponsored content that provided detailed information about a product or service in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article.
Authoritative Writing: Authoritative writings are usually bylined articles or blogs by an expert on a topic. Such writings should be original, authentic, bring something to the table, be engaging and present the author(s) as a thought leader.
Calendar Listing: A calendar listing is a tool used to get a free listing of an event or program mentioned by media outlets that provide information for upcoming events to their audience. Calendar listings are issued in advance of an event. They should increase awareness and attendance. If your event is by invitation only, a calendar listing should not be issued.
Letter to the Editor | Commentary: A letter to the editor, also known as commentary, is a great way to reach out to the media and to demonstrate your thought leadership, share your opinion, educate the public about the issues, applaud someone for doing the right thing, or criticize policies. A well-written, timely and concise letter to the editor can shift public opinion, influence policy, and receive substantial media attention. When writing a letter to the editor, review the publication’s policies and guidelines for submitting letters. Many have word count limitations and submission requirements that you absolutely must follow.
Media Advisory: A media advisory is most often used to entice members of the press to attend an upcoming event. Much shorter than a press release, a media advisory covers who, what, when, where, and why. Unlike a press release, a media advisory is not meant to be a pseudo-news story. Rather, it should be a succinctly written enticement like a save-the-date notice, which alerts reporters and editors to a future event or story opportunity.
Opinion-Editorial (Op-Ed): An opinion editorial is used to express an opinion. It is an underutilized and powerful way to publish an executive’s opinion and demonstrate depth of knowledge on a particular topic. In this way, the executive is positioned as a thought leader in their area of expertise, and as one who is willing to take a stand. The op-ed submissions that get published deal with often-controversial topics of current interest and take a stand on the issues addressed.
Pitch: A pitch is simply a message that shares news, a story or a media resource with a reporter explaining why it’s important and why the reporter’s audience should care.
Press Conference: The press conference involves someone speaking to the media at a specified time and place. The speaker controls the information they deliver and the media invited. There is a presumption that the speaker will answer questions posed by the media or other attendees.
Press Kit | Media Kit: A press kit, also known as a media kit, is a vital tool in public relations. It is a collection of information about your organization, your news story, the individuals, the issues, and the experts who can discuss the matters that affect you and your target audience. It should be used to provide more details to the media, not as a primary tool to pitch to the media.
Press Release: A press release is a concise tool commonly provided to the media to generate public awareness and interest about a story or news. It should convey who, what, when, where, why, and how. It is the written document designed to present the most newsworthy or attention-grabbing aspect of the story you are sharing. Written in the third person, a press release should demonstrate the newsworthiness of the matter.
Whitepaper: A white paper, also known as an authoritative report, is a persuasive essay that uses facts, data, and logic to illustrate a particular point. The white paper also is a way to communicate survey results and trends.
Media Terminology: The Language of Journalists
Be familiar with media terms before speaking with the media. Once you are familiar with these terms, be certain to have a conversation with the reporter to determine their definition of the terminology before the interview.
On the record: “On the record” or “for the record” means that what you say is fair game and may be included in the story with attribution to you. Therefore, your comments should be accurate, concise, and memorable. They are statements that you want the media to repeat.
“Any time you’re talking to a reporter, you should assume that what you’re saying is on the record until it’s agreed by both parties that it’s not,” says Gina Passarella, the Editor-in-Chief of ALM Media.
Off the record: “Off the record” comments should be avoided. A guiding principle is not to permit corporate representatives to make off-the-record comments because nothing is off the record. If you say it, then there is always a chance that it will end up published. “Off the record” just means that your name will not be attached to it (if the reporter agrees to this). If you do not want it researched or repeated, do not say it.
Embargo: An “embargo” usually entails providing an advance copy of an important press release or other information to the media with the explicit understanding that they will not release the story to the public until a specified date and time. When done right, you maintain control of when the story breaks, and you give the media enough time to conduct research, gather quotes, and cover the story. If you offer an embargoed story to a sole reporter, never give that story to another reporter without the permission from the other. In addition, just because you offered it, does not mean the reporter accepted the embargo. An embargo is an agreement between two parties.
Exclusive: An “exclusive” is when you give a particular media outlet the opportunity to be the first to break a story. It is the only outlet to get the interview. Many journalists insist on exclusives. In some instances, an exclusive also means that this is the only outlet to cover the particular story.
Second-day story: A “second-day story” should turn hard news into a multifaceted story that blends the issues with human interest. It is an update with new information on a story that was previously told. A second-day story fills gaps in the original story; provides another angle; and shares expert opinion, data, or other new information.
For attribution: “For attribution” is like speaking on the record. Essentially, the information the source provides is to be quoted and attributed to the person making the statement. The statement is usually followed by, “You can quote me on that.”
Not for attribution: The exact opposite of “for attribution,” “not for attribution” is when you provide the media with information that can be quoted or used, but that same information cannot be attributed to the source. Here, the information or statement should be preceded by, “You cannot quote me on this.” “Not for attribution” can be a sticky way to present information to the media. If you do not want it attributed to you, then it is better left unsaid, just like “off the record.” If you do not wish to provide certain information, you might consider earning some points with the reporter by suggesting an alternative source.
On background: According to a colleague who is an undercover investigative reporter, “on background” means that this reporter will not identify the source but will use all the information provided by the source. That is one reporter’s view. “On background” can also mean that the information will not be attributed or used. It depends on the source’s preference, and this should be clarified between the source and the reporter.
On deep background: When you say you are providing information to a reporter “on deep background,” it means that the information is not for the public, but the reporter can use it to enhance the story or get additional information from other sources. This is another example of a situation in which it is better not to put it out there if you do not want it published.
Public Relations Measurement Language
Awareness (a.k.a. message impact): Awareness or message impact measures awareness, attitude, and behavior changes that may have resulted from your public relations efforts. This is usually measured via surveys or focus groups but can be gauged through general feedback received from your PR programs if your budget is limited.
Comparative ad equivalency: The most controversial of all public relations measurement tools, comparative ad equivalency (also known as advertising value equivalency [AVEs] and value for placement) measures the financial value of the media coverage you received because of your public relations campaign. It compares what it would have cost to advertise in the same media space, whether it is print, broadcast, or online.
Competitive analysis: Competitive analysis helps you understand where your brand stands in relation to the competition.
Leads generated: Leads generated calculates the number of prospective client leads produced following your public relations campaign. This could be the number of leads that were generated because of a media story, the number generated because of a seminar, or any other public relations tool/campaign that the company uses in its communications arsenal.
Media content analysis: Media content analysis studies, tracks, and analyzes the content of your public relations messages as they appear in print, television, radio, and online communications. The prime function of media content analysis is to determine whether your key messages, concepts, and themes were disseminated to others via the media.
Media coverage: Media coverage measures the number of successful placements, type of media within which the mentions are located, and the audience who reads/views/listens to that media.
Media demand: Media demand is determined by whether the media proactively responds to press materials that you supplied. Did reporters call? Did you land interviews? Did the television cameras roll? Over time, does the media reach out to you or your company’s executives as a source for quotes?
Media mapping: Media mapping visually demonstrates local, regional, national, or international media placements. Think of it as pins on a map.
Media reach (a.k.a. media exposure): Media reach measures the number of people receiving communication via the media, also known as the number of media impressions.
Return on investment (ROI): ROI is a financial term that determines the incremental gain divided by the cost. Therefore, ROI equals the incremental gain in business divided by the invested resources multiplied by 100 percent.
Share of voice/Share of discussion: Share of voice or SOV (a.k.a. Share of Discussion or SOD), is the percentage one company has of the total amount of communication directed to a targeted group. Good SOV is considered a contributing factor to successful awareness campaigns.