Don’t Get Lost in the Lingo: PR Terms Defined & Why They Matter

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Public Relations, like most industries, is guilty of using its own jargon and acronyms. While some of these terms may be obvious, (PR is short for Public Relations) others may be less clear. If you’re working with a public relations or marketing professional, it’s helpful to understand what they mean if they happen to slide into industry-speak.

Here’s a list of frequently used industry lingo, along with definitions, and most importantly, why these terms matter in a PR campaign or marketing strategy.

Advertorial: An advertorial is the combination of an advertisement and an editorial piece. Advertorials differ from earned media (see definition below) in that you pay for the placement, but they have the look and feel as if it was the outlet’s own content. While an advertorial serves to educate the target audience on a particular topic, it will close with a call-to-action similar to an ad for the reader/viewer to purchase the product or service. Too, in order to not mislead audiences, the outlet will usually require the advertorial to state “Sponsored” or “Special Advertising Section.”

Analytics: PR professionals pay a lot of attention to analytics. Analytics refers to the data, and the identifiable patterns found within data. Analytics help PR pros to strategize and develop marketing campaigns (email, social media, web content) based upon the types of campaigns that have been successful (or a bust) in the past.

Backlink: A link to your website posted on a different website. Backlinks are an important aspect of search engine optimization, and can increase the authority of your website as well as increase traffic to the site. If you are quoted in the digital version of the Los Angeles Times and they link from the article back to your URL, that is a prime example of a good backlink.

Boilerplate: A brief description of your firm at the end of a press release. Think of this as your “About” section. It provides a quick overview of your firm’s practice, expertise, location, contact information and anything else notable such as size. The boilerplate is standardized unless there is a need to update facts.

Byline: Byline is a synonym for the author of an article, blog, white paper, etc. Think of it as an article written by you as opposed to a media professional (editor, reporter, etc.) PR professionals often aim to secure articles with their client’s byline to increase the client’s visibility and position them as experts in their respective industry. 

Click-Through Rate (CTR):  Marketing professionals monitor the Click-Through Rate in order to gauge the success of various online marketing campaigns. CTR relays how many people actually clicked through on a particular piece of content, e.g. an online ad or article in your e-newsletter. The higher the Click-Through Rate of a particular piece of content, the better.

Content Curation: One of the ways that marketing and PR professionals can best determine the type of content your firm needs to be sharing is through the process of content curation. This involves online research to determine the type of content that will be most useful, relevant or engaging for your audience, and sharing it. Curation doesn’t refer to the creation of new content; it involves curating existing content that will appeal to your audience, and then presenting to them. Content curation helps firms educate their audiences, introduce them to new products, laws, trends, etc., that they will find useful.

Content Marketing: Content marketing is both the creation of new content and the sharing of it, via email, social media and/or by placing it on a website. Content marketing includes newsletters, blogs, bylined articles, social media posts, email marketing, video and more.

Earned Media: Earned media refers to media coverage that is not paid for, unlike advertisements or advertorials. Many think of earned media as “publicity.” The stories are covered because they are worthy of news coverage in print, TV or online. An example of earned media is pitching The Wall Street Journal on a trend in your industry and being interviewed by one of their reporters, which results in being quoted in the published story.

Editorial Calendars: These calendars are used by media outlets to plan what will be covered in their issues/publications. For example, monthly magazines will often have a monthly “theme” for the issue, which is planned long in advance. PR professionals use editorial calendars to pitch stories that align with the theme or specific topics.

Engagement: Engagement is generally thought of as a social media term, meaning the total number of people who engaged with a piece of marketing content, through likes, shares, comments, etc.

Exclusive: An exclusive in PR terms means that only one media outlet will receive a specific media pitch from a PR rep. Media outlets often enjoy getting a “scoop” on a story, meaning they learn of the story before anyone else, and can be the first to publish, air, etc.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator): KPIs are specific marketing metrics used to track progress toward a defined goal. This could include total number of clients that generate $1 million or more in revenue, or increasing your firm’s Google website ranking from page three to page one. KPIs should be regularly assessed and to track patters, successes and challenges.

Lead Time: The amount of time editors and reporters need to gather information for a story. A monthly magazine will generally have a longer lead time than a daily newspaper, and lead times can vary from outlet to outlet.

Media Relations: This refers to the mutually beneficial relationships that PR professionals create with the media on your behalf. These relationships are built through connecting experts with the media, staying current with the media’s interests,  etc.

Organic Reach: Your organic reach is the number of viewers who view content online that you haven’t paid to promote. That is, your users find your content organically, for example, by seeing your posts in their feed or because a page they follow shared your content.

Owned Media: This term refers to content you’re in direct control of through your site, blog, social media profiles and other platforms. Your firm may attend a conference and author a series of blogs on takeaways that you post to your website, on social media and publish in your newsletter.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the process of increasing your website visibility in search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo!) by using various strategies to improve online search rankings. By employing successful SEO tactics, you can help

drive more relevant traffic, leads, sales, and ultimately, revenue and profit for your firm.

The above isn’t an exhaustive list of terms, but should aid in better understanding some of the most commonly used marketing and PR jargon.

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