Public Relations Terminology Helpful PR Definitions

In most businesses there are industry terms that can be confusing or misunderstood when you first begin – the PR agency world is no exceptions. Similar to other industries, it has a number of acronyms that are often confusing or misleading. Our public relations terminology guide will help you understand many of these and provides key insight into standard PR definitions

Ad Rate – Ad Spend – Ad Budget

An ad rate (or ad spend/ad budget) is how much it costs to take out an advertisement in various media outlets. This can be very confusing to newcomers to the ad agency or public relations world. Luckily, the terminology is very simple. The amount of Ad Spend can vary depending on quite a few factors, such as size, length, time of day and frequency


Garnering attention for a product, business, or campaign through a paid announcement whether it is in print (written), broadcast (tv, radio), or digital (online) media channels with the goal of attracting public attention.


An ad written in the form of an objective opinion editorial, and presented in a printed publication—usually designed to look like a legitimate and independent news story. Many people confuse press releases with advertorials, but once you understand the terminology, it’s obvious the two are very different beasts, although perhaps with the same or similar goal.

ANR (aka Audio News Release)

After radio became a standard feature in the modern world, public relations terminology dictated that most of these taped news releases would be actually sent to radio stations and feature voice actualities of organization spokespersons or representatives. An ANR may be sent with paper copy of a wrapper to be used by the newscaster. The wrapper also may be pre-recorded. An ANR usually contains spot news or an organization’s reaction to spot news or a current issue.


Secondary background footage that will be cut into any film footage’s primary story line. This is used to help establish atmosphere, location, and accentuate artistic measures.


Most often used at the end of a press release, a boilerplate is a brief and concise company description of what a company is and what it does.


Authored by a subject matter expert/thought leader at a company or by the company itself, a byline is an article with a specific point of view, advice or tips in relation to a certain topic. The topic typically relates to an area of expertise in which the subject matter expert/thought leader is influential. Bylines are used as part of a robust media relations campaign and are often preferred by media and PR agencies as they are readily available and easy to publication. Bylines provide companies with the opportunity to communicate key messages and have control over content.


The total number of copies distributed by a specific print publication. The copies are made readily available for readers, through newsstands or subscriptions. This number is shared with clients as a metric to the relevancy of reach the piece of coverage received.


Cision is an earned media software company that provides public relations tools as well as a wide variety of other services that allow marketers and communicators to effectively reach their goals. One of their most popular services is their PR Software, which allows those in the industry to reach influencers through a media and blogger database of more than 1 million contacts and outlets.

Content Marketing

The marketing of created online material such as videos, blogs, and social media posts that do not directly promote a brand, but are intended to peak general interest in a specific product and/or service.


A print or online client mention in an article, story, blog, newsletter or any other promotional source. A clip refers to the physical copy of that client mention that can be given to clients.


A marketing acronym of cost-per-thousand used to represent the price of 1,000 advertisement impressions on one webpage. For example, if a website publisher charges $10 CPM, that means an advertiser must pay $10.00 for every 1,000 impressions generated by an ad display.

Crisis Communications

Addresses a high level of media scrutiny that has the potential of causing reputation issues for a brand. Crisis communications involves a strategic management plan designed to mitigate risk and provide a public response meant to maintain a positive brand reputation.

DMA (Designated Marketing Area)

A DMA is a geographic area defined by Nielsen Media Research Company. Essentially this is a group of counties that make up a specific TV market.

Earned Media

Third-party endorsement for your client, typically obtained through media relations efforts, which mentions your client’s event, product, initiative or any other pertinent news as it relates to your client. Earned media (or free media) refers to publicity gained through public relations efforts and is completely separate from paid media such as advertising.

Editorial calendar

Calendars with scheduled topics that will be covered at a certain publication for the entire year. These provide PR professionals with the appropriate timing to reach out to an editor about a specific story.


The sharing of unannounced, relevant information between a PR professional and the media that cannot be published before an agreed upon time and date. For example, if you have a new phone model coming out, you contact reporters who may be interested in the information and reach an agreement that the news won’t be posted before a certain time and date.


An exclusive means the offering of news meant to appear in one specific publication. Exclusives are typically given to larger publications as they have a greater reach. When a publication takes an exclusive, there is an understanding that the news won’t be shared with others until the original publication posts a story. Exclusives are often times subject to change only if news is leaked by another source before the original publication posts their article.


The PR definition of fundraising is very straightforward. Essentially it is the process of asking for and gathering contributions (such as money or other equatable resources), by requesting donations/gifts from businesses, individuals, charitable foundations, or a related government agency.

GMT (aka Ground Media Tour)

Similar to the SMT, except rather than use a satellite to broadcast the feed, the “expert” will actually travel to the local cities and appear live in studio.

Influencer Marketing

The act of leveraging influencers who have a built-in audience and can reach consumers via their blogs and/or social networks on behalf of a brand. Influencers have become increasingly popular and can include celebrities, social media stars or bloggers.


A launch is an official announcement typically for a company, campaign or product and involves promotional efforts with the end goal of increasing awareness amongst the public. A launch is executed through a promotional marketing strategy and is initially announced through a press release.

Lead time

The amount of time reporters need to gather information, conduct interviews and fact check for their stories to post by a specific time frame. Lead times vary by the type of outlet, with print publications having longer lead times than online.


Marketing is something that is often confused with PR but is actually quite different and the two can work hand in hand. The terminology surrounding the public relations definition sets marketing out as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients and society at large.

Mat Release (Sometimes Called Matte Release)

A formatted, consumer-related article that newspaper editors can use to add content to their publication. Often used by news editors to supplement staff-written stories to fill soft news sections of the paper. They are created, distributed and paid for by the company/client.

Media Impressions

Media impressions is one of these grand PR definitions that is helpful to understand. Most simply it is the number of people who might have seen an article, heard something on the radio or in a podcast, watched something on television, or read something on a web page or blog.

Media Relations

The term media relations mainly is in reference to conducting outreach or responding to the news media on behalf of your organization or client. Media relations is often considered a specialized function within a public relations campaign and can help agencies understand when it is best to do an email pitch or a traditional press release.

Messaging Strategy

A messaging strategy is a set of foundational talking points that are aligned with your client’s goals and overall brand messaging. These messages are weaved into a spokesperson’s media interviews, communicating the most important information related to a company, product and/or service.

Native Advertising

A form of paid media that does not disrupt the user experience and blends in with the rest of the content. An example of native advertising is a promoted tweet or a sponsored article on a specific website.

Owned Media

Original content created by a PR agency and/or their clients. Examples of owned media include company blogs, contributed content and corporate social media profiles.

Paid Media

Involves traditional advertising such as display ads, but can also encompass Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter ads that work cohesively as part of an integrated PR and social media strategy.


A well-crafted, highly targeted story idea sent to an editor or journalist to gauge their interest in your client. The writing style and angle of a pitch can either make or break one’s chances of landing a story with a publication. A pitch can also incorporate photos, videos and typically ends with a call to action.

Pitch Angle

A specific focus or emphasis chosen for a story idea that is presented to the media – ie: pitching headphones as a great travel gadget because they are portable.

Press kit

A set of documents with a wide range of promotional and informative documents. A press kit usually contains press releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other relevant material about your client’s product, service and/or campaign. They are distributed to media via mail or at an event.


A short video that plays before the start of a video that has been selected for viewing.

Press Release

A written announcement that seeks to draw media attention to a specific event, product launch or campaign.

Press tour

Press tours are coordinated by PR professionals who secures multiple media interviews with one specific spokesperson to speak about the launch of a new product and/or service. Press tours typically involve a couple of days of back-to-back media opportunities with TV, radio and in-person interviews with reporters. They are a great strategy to cultivate relationships with a wide net of media contacts.

Public Relations

As the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) states, “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” Another way to state this would be using the news (or business press) to carry positive stories about your company or your products; cultivating a good relationship with local press representatives. Public relations terminology dictates that this can also be called publicity or promotions.

RNR (aka Radio News Release)

A radio news release is a prepared publicity or news announcement, broadcast over the radio.


Return on Investment: The ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. Basically, it’s the end measurement that lets you know what you get out of the money you put into any given contribution.


A story that summarizes and highlights multiple products/services that apply to a greater umbrella theme or topic. An example can be an article that includes the best products at a tradeshow or an article that lists multiple must go-to events for a specific holiday. Although these are smaller client mentions versus feature stories, they are still complimentary to any media relations campaign and can point out a client’s strengths over a competitor.

Sending over the wire/wire service

A distribution service for press releases that allows companies and PR professionals to get news out to several media outlets across the country in a short amount of time. Since there is a cost associated with wire services, they are usually only used in the event of big company news or breaking news. Businesswire and PR Newswire are a couple of service providers.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The process of improving ranking in search engine results. Basically, making sure your company’s name shows up earlier and more often when people search for topics related to your field.

SMT (aka Satellite Media Tour)

A technique used by corporations (primarily) to provide an “expert” of their choosing to local television news broadcasts for often-live interaction, with the goal of getting out a specific message. As the name implies, the expert is broadcast to the local TV stations through a satellite feed.

Social Media

A version of online/digital media that expedites conversation as opposed to traditional media– which delivers content but doesn’t allow readers, viewers or listeners to participate in the creation or development of the content. Social media marketing, conversely accentuates both the creation and ongoing development of the content.


A person who is selected and trained to speak on behalf of a company, organization or brand with the purpose to the inform an audience with key messages.

Sponsored or Boosted Posts

A boosted or sponsored post is a social media post from a business page that, for a minimal fee, can appear higher up on its audience’s News Feeds. The fee depends on how many people you want the post to reach—the higher the reach, the higher the fee will be. This increases the chance that a specific following will see the post and receive more engagement.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content includes brand-sponsored articles and videos that appear on the sites and influencers’ social platforms.


What can be seen as a form of advertising, many times for a particular event, project, or program. Usually, this type of advertising is looking towards the establishment of a deeper association (and inherit integration) between the sponsor and publisher.

Subject Matter Expert

A subject matter expert is a person who has a specific area of expertise and can speak to it from an authoritative and creditable position.


A news service that takes a single story and places it on several media outlets websites nation/worldwide. The Associated Press is an example of a syndicate. When a piece of client coverage is syndicated, it means that the same story was picked-up and ran in multiple media outlets.

Trade publication

A publication that targets people in a specific industry and is usually not of interest to the general public. Examples include: Variety for people who are in the entertainment industry and ComputerWorld, which mainly publishes content for professionals in the information technology industry.


UVM stands for unique visitors per month and is a type of metric used to describe the number of people who have had the opportunity to be exposed to a story that has appeared on an online website. UVMs are used to help calculate ROI.

VNR (aka Video News Release)

A videotaped news story produced by an organization and distributed to television newsrooms. VNRs are particularly useful at times of crisis or when an organization has an angle based on unusualness or human interest. VNRs are often accompanied by B-roll footage.

White Paper

A whitepaper is a persuasive report on a specific topic that mainly presents a problem and provides a solution. Whitepapers are used to educate an audience about a particular issue and promote a particular product. The overall goal of a whitepaper is to inform and persuade purely based on an overview of facts and figures.

Although this is not the most exhaustive list possible (by a long shot!) we hope that this brief overview of public relations terminology has helped you better understand some of the definitions that we deal with every day as one of Chicago’s leading PR Firms. If you have any questions on any of the above definitions or would like us to give the definition of a PR term not listed above please let us know.

Carie Pflug

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