The Language of PR: A Glossary of Terms

One of the most rewarding parts of our job is working with startups from so many different industries: cybersecurity, AI, Internet of Things and blockchain technology, to name a few. We love learning about their business and how they’ve worked hard to make their ideas flourish.

After a startup receives a seed round or Series A round of funding, Treble is often one of their first stops. They’re now ready to start spreading the word about their business, and because they’re new to the PR process, but they’re not always familiar with industry terms. It’s a great time to share: we learn about the way people talk in their business, and they learn the way we talk in ours.

With that in mind, here are a few common words and phrases that we use in talking about our work.

Byline: The line at the beginning of a story that tells you who wrote it. We often get our clients a byline in a respected publication as a guest contributor so they can show their expertise in and knowledge of a particular topic.

Earned Media: One of the Big 4 types of media, along with owned, paid and a relative newcomer, shared. Earned media is traditional press coverage, typically obtained via PR efforts, and could include websites, podcasts and video.

Editorial Calendar: A monthly schedule of topics that publications plan to cover. PR firms can use editorial calendars to pitch stories that match with the publications’ topics. Often shortened to “ed cals.”

Embargo: An agreement between publications and an agency that a given piece of information won’t be published until after a specific date and time. An embargo gives reporters a preview of the information so they can put together a detailed story. Breaking an embargo risks losing a relationship between the reporter and PR agency.

Exclusive: An offer to a reporter or publication that gives them the first look at upcoming information or products. The info won’t be shared with any other media until after the first publication has posted their story. Reporters are attracted to exclusive coverage because it draws attention to their story. We’ve secured exclusive coverage for clients in the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, Crunchbase News and more.

Media Training: Preparation that helps company spokespeople who will be talking to reporters anticipate questions, avoid overexplaining or misstatements and focus on getting their message across effectively.

Mentions: A story, article, TV spot or other media appearance that covers your client or story.

Messaging: The central themes that businesses want audiences to remember. A consistent set of messages helps you control communications and focus on the issues you want to discuss.

Messaging Pull-Through: The ability to control the conversation by selectively sharing aspects of your messaging in all PR pitches, bylines and owned/earned/pain media. It’s great for your brand if everyone is talking about you in the same way.

Off the Record: Information shared with a reporter that cannot be used for publication. It’s important to set the ground rules before the interview rather than share information and they ask that it be off the record. In contrast, “on the record” means information can be used without any qualification and will include the source by name.

Owned Media: Content that you create yourself. This includes blog posts, webinars, podcasts, customer stories, and other info created by you and your team. For PR purposes, owned media helps you cement your credibility, voice, messaging and commitment to content.

Paid Media: Advertising, both online and offline. It includes sponsored posts on social channels, native articles, search-engine ads, Amazon ads, as well as payments to influencers.

Pitch: A personalized note to a reporter or editor to gauge their interest in a story. Pitches are customized based on what the reporter regularly writes about and often includes original research or data to increase the chance that the reporter will take the story.

Shared Media: Most social media, excluding any paid placements, but also online word of mouth and referrals.

Thought Leadership: Content that establishes your credibility, displays your expertise and demonstrates your authority in your chosen field.

Wire: A paid distribution service for press releases. The biggest ones are BusinessWire and PR Newswire, which reach thousands of media outlets across the country. It costs money to post a press release to these services, but it’s an effective way of reaching a wide swath of publications.

At Treble, we’re here to get your message across in the clearest way possible. When we speak the same language, we’re able to deliver the results you’re looking for.