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Glossary of Terms

The public relations industry can be jargon-heavy at times. Want to learn how to speak like your favorite PR pro, or simply to demystify their lingo? Here is a quick glossary of frequently used terms to help guide you through.

Public Relations

An angle is a specific emphasis we chose for a story that we present to the media — i.e., presenting headphones as a great travel gadget because they are portable.

A boilerplate is a short company description most often used at the end of a press release. Most agencies will recommend these stay as consistent as possible from one release to the next. By standardizing this “about” copy, you make journalists’ jobs easier and help them remember your company with more clarity.

A byline is an article authored (or ghostwritten for) a thought leader at a company about a topic in which they want to be known. PR agencies shop these typically educational and informative articles out to journalists in an aim to get these highly controlled content marketing pieces published in credible third-party sources. This creates a win-win for both the company and the journalist — the company gets the exposure to key audiences that matter to them, and the journalists gets ready-made easy-to-publish content that makes their lives easier and benefits their readers.

Circulation is the total number of copies of a print publication that is available for readers, whether through subscriptions or newsstands. This is a number we share with clients as one of the factors to the relevancy of a piece of coverage they have received.

Coverage/Clip/Media Hits: 
An article, story, blog or segment that mentions a client.

Ed Cals:
Ed cals, short for editorial calendars, are a schedule of topics media will cover at a certain publication for the entire year. These can give PR pros a starting point for reaching out to an editor about a story.

Offering first-look information or samples to a single, usually major, media outlet. This means that the information or product won’t be shared with any other outlets until the original outlet has posted their story and can be a good way to kick off a campaign with a bang.

Difference between Hard News and Soft News: 
News stories are basically divided into two types: hard news and soft news. Hard new generally refers to up-to-the-minute news and events that are reported immediately, while soft news is comprised of background information, trend oriented or human-interest stories.

A launch is the official announcement, usually jump-started with a press release, about a new product or service. Many companies that have already been in business for some time, still engage in an official “press launch” when they are proven and ready for the limelight.

Lead Time:
Lead time is the amount of time needed by reporters to gather information for their story. This varies by the type of media outlet—with magazines having the longest lead times and online press sources the shortest.

A pitch is a highly targeted note that is crafted and sent to an editor to gauge their interest in your news. It presents key story angles, expert sources, and can also incorporate photos and videos, and ends with a call to action.

Press Kit:
A press kit is a set of documents given to media, usually containing press releases, fact sheets, bios, photos, and other relevant material about your client or their product/service. It’s the who, what, when, where and why of your brand story that allows you to control the narrative of news stories about you company to a large extent, as journalists will often draw from this information to flesh out their news stories.

A story that highlights several products/services that apply to a certain topic, which can range from Valentine’s Day gifts to best products from a trade show.

Syndication is the process of taking a single story and placing it on several websites or in several outlets nation/worldwide. Associated Press is an example of a syndicate. When a piece of client coverage is syndicated, it means that the same story ran in multiple media outlets.

Traction is a term to denote interest in a client from a media outlet – this could be a request for more information or actual coverage.

Trade Publication:
A trade publication is a media outlet targeted to a specific industry for people that work in that industry.

Wire Service:
Wire services offer paid distribution of press releases allowing you to get news out across the internet and usually resulting in instant pick up by 100+ publications. BusinessWire and Global Newswire are two examples.

Digital Marketing

A/B Testing:
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of an ad or marketing campaign against each other to determine which version performs better. Only one aspect of the ad campaign changes – image, copy or audience. This can help when starting a marketing campaign for a new client or taking your ads in a new direction as it allows you to determine what your audience responds best to.

Algorithm arranges posts in a user’s feed based on relevancy rather than chronological order. Posts that are displayed at the top of a user’s feed are determined based on user engagement.

Understanding your brand’s demographics helps distinguish your audience on social media to curate engaging content for them.

Bounce Rate:
The bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who enter your website and leave quickly without exploring other pages. A user “bounces” when there is no engagement on the landing page.

Chatbots are programs that engage and receive messages through website chat windows and social messaging services. Chatbots are programmed to send automated messages and respond differently based on keywords.

Conversion Rate:
The conversion rate is the percentage of users who complete a desired goal on a website compared to the total number of visitors.

Cost Per Click is how much it costs an advertiser to get a click in a PPC campaign. CPC is calculated by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of clicks generated.

Cost Per Engagement is how much revenue is earned every time a user engages with an advertisement – an engagement can include liking a post on social media, pausing a video, commenting on a post, etc.

Cost Per Lead is used by online advertisers to keep track of how much money a publisher gains when they develop a lead for them. From there, it is the responsibility of the advertiser to convert leads into sales.

CPM, or “Cost per Thousand Impressions”, is an industry standard which represents the cost per 1,000 times an advertising campaign has reached its desired audience. The CPM model refers to advertising purchased based on impression as opposed to pay-for-performance options (price per click, registration). CPM does not account for whether or not viewers click on the advertisements.

Cost Per View is the amount an advertiser pays every time a user views their ad. The advertiser sets the budget.

CTA, or Call to Action, refers to the section in any piece of copy that gives the reader instructions to take a desired action. It is important to include a CTA when writing copy because otherwise readers may be confused as to what action they should take next. A CTA can include “Contact Us,” “Download,” “Sign Up,” etc.

Click-Through-Rate is expressed as a ratio of total users who click on a link over users who only viewed it. This is a common way to measure the success of a marketing campaign or social media advertisement.

Direct Message (DM):
A direct message is a private message between social media users where only the sender and recipient have access to the content. DMs can be used to communicate with an online audience or customers to answer questions or concerns privately.

Engagement is when a user interacts with content. This can include likes, shares, comments, clicks, retweets, favorites and any other action that a user can perform within the specific platform. Engagement is important because it constructs a long-term relationship with targeted audiences. Measuring engagement helps evaluate content performance to make changes to improve the strength of future engagement.

Engagement Rate:
Engagement rate is a popular metric used to describe the amount of interaction – likes, shares, comments, etc. – a piece of content receives compared to the number of users who see it. The purpose of recording this is to show how many users are connecting with a brand and how often. Traditional engagement rate is based on total following. Engagement can also be measured based on total impressions which would be compared to the total number of times the content has been seen.

Ephemeral Content:
Ephemeral content is visual content on social media that can only be viewed for a certain period of time. Once the available time is up, the content disappears. Ephemeral content creates authenticity and reduces viewing multiple posts on a user’s feed. This is most often seen on Instagram through the story feature where content is available for 24 hours or through Snapchat.

Geo-tagging is a feature that social media networks offer for location-based sharing. Users can “check in” at given locations or include where they are posting from. This feature can be used by business to calculate which locations are performing better than others and also to gather information on customer demographic.

Geo-targeting is selecting an audience for a campaign based on geographic location including zip code, designated marketing area, cities, states and countries. This allows businesses that rely on foot traffic or home deliveries to better reach consumers as it avoids advertising to consumers not in the desired area.

Impressions refer to the number of times a post or ad is displayed, whether it is clicked or not.

Influencer / Content Creator:
An influencer promotes products and services and impacts purchasing decisions within their social media audience. Influencers are content creators who own a blog or social media account where they share their views on brands.

Keyword is a specific word/phrase included in an ad to optimize for search. The advertiser doing contextual advertising also chooses keywords so that their ad will show up within pages that are returned for that keyword.

Landing Page:
A landing page is a standalone web page usually created for a specific advertising or marketing campaign. These pages can be the landing spot for social media campaigns and often include a CTA such as a lead form, sign up, download, etc.

A meme is a viral image or video that expresses a cultural symbol, social idea or style. Memes quickly spread across social media platforms through user engagement.

A mention is the text inclusion of a monitored keyword in a post on a social media platform. Mentions are a great source to identify the audience promoting a business whether it’s positive or negative feedback, it is also a great way to initiate engagement with the audience.

Paid Media:
Paid media includes external marketing efforts that involve paid placements on multiple platforms to increase revenue growth and brand awareness. This can be social ads or sponsored posts on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter that can work as part of an integrated PR and social media strategy.

Pay Per Click refers to an online advertising model in which advertisers only pay when a visitor clicks through from an ad or search. Bid-based PPC involves an auction in which advertisers compete with other advertisers by setting the max bid – or highest amount they’re willing to pay – for each click. Each time a visitor triggers the ad spot, the auction process pans out to select which ad will be displayed. Because advertisers pay only for clicks versus impressions, it is important to bid on keywords relevant to your business or campaign to ensure a better return on investment.

Reach is the total number of people that were exposed to your content or ad during a given period.

Retargeting is an online marketing and advertising technique that allows marketers to display ads to users who have visited their website or are part of their contact database. The goal of retargeting is to serve an ad to any visitors who have left your site without taking an action or converting.

ROAS stands for return on advertising spend. ROAS is used to assess the productivity of an advertisement. This can assist businesses in figuring out what their consumers are responding well to and what they are not so that they can choose the best route to take for their next ad campaign.

Sales Funnel:
The sales funnel refers to the process that brings a potential customer from awareness to purchase through a series of different marketing actions.

Segmentation is a process of dividing a large business market to smaller groups which more accurately target its potential consumers.

Sentiment is how people feel about a given topic or brand on social media. It’s important to understand the emotion and context behind an individual’s post because it can help decipher what type of engagement and/or reply would be appropriate.

Search Engine Optimization is the “art and science” of making web pages attractive and keyword-rich to improve its ranking in search engines. SEO increases the quality and quantity of traffic to a web page by increasing visibility to users during their search query.

Social Listening:
Social listening is a strategy that helps monitor and respond to conversations about your brand online. This helps seek engagement opportunities in conversations your brand is being discussed in.

Target Audience:
A target audience is a group in the community selected as the most appropriate for a particular marketing campaign or schedule. The target audience may be defined by demographic or psychographic terms, or a combination of both. The target audience should relate to the content of the campaign’s message and make personal connections to build trust with the brand.

UGC, or user-generated content, is anything published online by an individual that is then shared on a company’s social channels. This gives businesses an opportunity to respond to the user’s feedback as well as connect with consumers in a more personal manner and boost credibility.

Unique Visitors Per Month refer to the number of individual visitors to a website determined by the unique IP address of the visitors. This measurement is a tool to determine the popularity of a website (the higher the number the better), rather than relying on number of site visits, which can encompass one person visiting a site several times.

UTM Code:
UTM code, or Urchin Traffic Monitor, is a simple code that is added to the end of a URL to track the performance of content.