A quick PR glossary from A-Z



Account – A programme or campaign created on behalf of a client, and managed by an agency or consultancy.

Account team – The team of agency staff assigned to a client and his/her programme. Generally consists of various members drawn from board director (overall strategy and top level advice); account director (team management and quality control); account manager (day-to-day management); senior account executive/account executive (execution of most day-to-day activities); and account assistant (research and admin support).

Advertising – Presenting persuasive material to the public by means of paid space or broadcast time to promote a product, idea, or service.

Advertising cost equivalent (ACE) – How much would this editorial piece cost if it had been paid-for advertising? ACE or advertising cost equivalent is sometimes used to give PR a monetary value.

Advocacy – Support or argument for a group, an organisation or a cause.

Agency / consultancy – A company acting for others in a business context.

Angle – The approach or perspective from which a news fact or event is viewed, or the emphasis chosen for a story.

Attitude survey – A survey examining enduring systems of positive and negative evaluations, emotional feelings, and pro or con action tendencies with respect to social objects – people, places, things, and ideas.

Audience – The people you want to reach.


Blog – Short for weblog, a blog is a frequently updated personal online journal kept by a blogger. Or if created and maintained by a business it’s known as a Biz Blog. A useful way to get information into the public arena – and quickly.

Blog storm – A blog storm or blog swarm is when bloggers in the blogosphere write thousands of posts about a subject which then forces the story into the mainstream media.

Brainstorming – The creative method for producing a multitude of ideas on a given subject or problem, generally recorded for future evaluation and use.

Brief – The instructions from a client to a consultancy, or directions communicated within a PR agency.

Broadcast – The dissemination of programmes or messages through the media of radio, internet or television.

Byline – The byline identifies the name of the journalist or author of a piece of editorial and is placed just under the headline.


Campaign – The planning, carrying-out and the analysis of a PR plan of action.

Churnalism – A brash term coined by Guardian journalist Nick Davies in his book Flat Earth News, to illustrate his belief that many of his journalistic colleagues have become puppets for the PR industry.

Clear – To obtain permission; authorise.

Client – The organisation or person who employs a PR consultancy.

Collateral PR – The effect of gaining good PR on the back of someone else’s coverage. This can happen when your product or service is compared favourably to a competitor’s in an editorial.

Communication – The credible, honest and timely two-way flow of information that fosters common understanding and trust.

Competition – Other organisations that represent a threat to a particular business.

Contract – An agreement made between a PR consultancy and a client covering areas of agreed objectives, timing, service levels and price.

Copy – The text produced by a consultancy for a press release or article. Journalists also refer to their news stories or features as copy.

Corporate communications – Public relations for a corporation, integrated as part of a company’s strategic objectives.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) – Providing support to an event or a cause by devoting corporate resources in exchange for an opportunity to enhance good will. The role of PR in CSR is to communicate effectively in order to build corporate accountability and transparency.

Credentials – Either the published information consultancies provide to prospective clients or an initial no-cost presentation of the consultancy’s capabilities.

Crisis management – Having a communications plan in place that can be effectively put into action when something goes wrong for a company or organisation. This includes policies and procedures for the distribution of information to employees, media, government and other key publics.

Cutting – An extract from a newspaper or magazine that makes reference to the client. Also commonly referred to as a “clipping”.

Cue sheet – Briefing notes to help a spokesman prepare for an interview with a journalist. The cues should cover the issues that are likely to arise in the interview and approach that should be taken on these issues.


Dateline – Place and date of an article’s origin that appears at the beginning of the first paragraph of an article.

Defamation (libel) – false or malicious claims that may harm someone’s reputation.


e-PR – Also known as online PR, this uses the internet/new technology to communicate with stakeholders. This could include tactics from using the company website effectively, to a “word-of-mouth” campaign using e-mail (known as viral marketing).

Editorial – An article or opinion piece written to communicate key messages to the various audiences identified by a client and consultancy.

Embargo – A heading on a news release indicating that the news is not to be published or reported before that date.

Employee relations – Dealing and communicating with the employees of an organisation. This can include team building and employee empowerment.

Event management – The use of a project, programme, action or happening, generally involving public participation, to meet overall organisational goals. Special events often are designed to obtain publicity or other exposure.

Evaluation – The continuous process of measuring the impact of a PR campaign from start to finish.

Expenses – The charges consultancies make for expenditure incurred on client programmes, such as print, travel, telephones, mailing costs, and so on.

Exclusive – A story one reporter or media organisation has obtained to the exclusion of the competition.

Exposure – The extent to which the target audience becomes aware of a person, message, activity, theme or organisation through the efforts of PR.


Feature – An article that gives detailed information on an issue, a trend, a situation, an industry, a company or organisation, or a person. A feature often focuses on the human element. It is designed to enlighten, entertain, and/or educate readers.

Fees – The charge consultancies make for the time spent by their executive staff working on client projects, generally invoiced in regular monthly installments and monitored through daily time records.

Financial PR – The efforts of a publicly-held company, or one that is on the way to a public flotation, to communicate with shareholders, security analysts, institutional investors and stock exchanges.

Full service – A one-stop PR shop which incorporates clients from many different industry sectors and which offers a range of PR disciplines, and sometimes in-house design and other services.


Ghostwriting – Writing generated without published credit to its author and often credited to another.


Hard news – A story that is truly newsworthy, presented factually and objectively.

Healthcare PR – Specialist PR discipline that communicates about healthcare products or issues to medical groups, interested third parties, and specialist media.


Integrated campaign – A multidisciplinary approach which uses a number of marketing communications techniques in order to deliver a consistent set of messages. The aim is to achieve seamless communication with the audience.

Internal communications – Communicating with employees and shareholders to inform them of change (for instance during a company merger), keep them up to date with company news and developments, or to help achieve corporate objectives.

Interview alert – Similar to a media alert, a means of presenting an expert source willing to comment on a timely issue. It includes contact information to set up an interview.

Inverted pyramid – Style of writing in which the most important information is put in the lead, followed by less and less important information, constructed so an editor can cut after any paragraph and have a complete story that meets space limitations.

Issue management – This involves identifying problems, issues and trends relevant to an organisation and then developing and executing a programme to deal with them.


Leader – Dominant article that is given primary attention and prominent placement on the first page of a publication. The opening news story.

Lead time – The deadline for submission of articles, set by reporters or publications, which allows enough time for a piece to be written, edited, and sent to print.

Libel – The communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation.

Lobbying – Direct attempts to influence legislative and regulatory decisions in government. Lobbyists can be either individuals such as public relations consultants who, for pay, provide certain types of lobbying services on behalf of a client, or employees whose jobs involve a significant amount of lobbying for their employers.

Logo – A graphic or symbol owned by and representing a company or brand.


Media – Channel for the communication of information including newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, mobile phones and the internet.

Media briefing – A session designed to provide background information or explanation, rather than spot news, to interested media representatives. Reporters who attend may also receive fact sheets, media kits, photos, or other publicity materials.

Media monitoring – The regular surveillance of media sources to track coverage of your own or a competitor organisation, and/or issues and topics of relevance to your business or industry.

Media relations – Dealing and communicating with the news media when seeking publicity or responding to reporters’ questions. It also involves setting up and maintaining a professional and mutually beneficial working relationship with news gatherers and gatekeepers, in part by becoming known as a credible source and as a provider of factual, expert information whether or not that information results in media coverage.

Messages – Agreed words or statements that a client wants to convey to third parties, like the media or shareholders, for example.


News – Information that is new, unusual, unexpected, controversial, of wide significance or of interest to the audience of a publication or programme.

News angle – That which is new, important, different, or unusual about a specific event, situation, or person.

News release – The most common written form used in public relations, announcing a client’s news and information. Also referred to as a press release. A news story written for and released to the news media, in particular to newspapers.

Newswire – An electronic service providing late-breaking news stories or other up-to-the-minute information.


Official statement – A written comment prepared for the purpose of responding consistently to any question from the media regarding a particular controversial issue.

“Off-the-record” – Information provided by a source that is strictly intended as background information for a reporter and which cannot be published or used in any way.

Opinion poll – A poll that measures the response to a question about a controversial topic.


Pitch – A full presentation of a recommended public relations campaign, carefully researched and costed, which usually takes a number of weeks to prepare.

Press conference – The live dissemination of news information by an organisation to invited media. The format is usually a presentation of information by the organisation followed by a question and answer session. Also known as a news conference.

Press pack/kit – A branded pack handed out to the media by an organisation. It normally contains background material, photographs, illustrations and news releases.

Press office – A press office handles all media enquiries and puts out all company messages or press releases to the media on behalf of an organisation. This may be an in-house function or outsourced to a PR consultancy.

Proactive PR/Reactive PR – Editorial that appears as a direct result of PR input is proactive PR. Reactive PR happens when an editorial has appeared as a result of the publication’s initiative.

Press release – A written communication sent to all news media. Also known as a news release.

Promotion – Using techniques such as events, promotions, ads and stunts to create and stimulate interest in a person, product, organisation or cause.

Proposal – A document outlining a proposed PR campaign to an existing or potential client.

Public – A group of people considered to be the target audience for a PR campaign.

Publicity – The spreading of information to gain public awareness of a product, service, organisation, issue or cause etc.

Public affairs – The process of communicating an organisation’s point of view on issues or causes to political audiences and lobbying groups. It is particularly concerned with the effect of public policies, actions and legislation on its publics.

Public relations – The dissemination of purposefully planned and executed messages to selected media and publics to enable an organisation (or person) establish and build relationships founded on trust, and to enhance and safeguard its reputation.


Quantative and Qualitive Evaluations.  That is evaluating the coverage achieved on both numeracy (the number of times you have been mentioned, or number of clippings) and qualitative, the quality of the coverage achieved.


Relationship management – The identification of key publics and the establishment of strategies for building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with those publics.

Reputation – The public’s or target audience’s perception of a product or service in terms of credibility, trustworthiness or image.

Reputation management – The planning and implementing of policies, procedures and strategies that demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to public and social responsibility, ethical behaviour, corporate identity and reputation with key publics.


Slander (libel) – False or malicious claims that may harm someone’s reputation.

Social responsibility – Providing support, through corporate resources, to an event or a cause that demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to ethically responsible behaviour.

Social media – The technology used to enable an individual reach a worldwide audience in an instant. Social media such as blogs, wikis and forums also offer readers the right to reply.

Social networking – Online social networks refer to internet applications such as MySpace, Flickr and Facebook that help connect friends, students and complete strangers.

Soundbite – A very brief quote excerpted from a person’s broadcast interview, used in the media to convey a certain idea or opinion.

“Spin” – A pejorative term signifying a heavily biased portrayal in one’s own favor of an event or situation. It often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.

Spokesperson – An expert source willing to comment on a timely issue.

Sponsorship – Donating funds to an organisation or event in exchange for supportive association in order to generate publicity.

Stakeholder – A party who affects, or who can be affected by, a company’s actions.


Vertical media – Media relevant to different market sectors for a product or service. For example, a barcode printer can be promoted in specialist printing, packaging and food retailing media.

Viral campaign – A communications campaign designed to exploit the potential of the internet to spread messages rapidly. The audience is encouraged to pass a message on to all of their e-mail contacts.


Yellow press – A pejorative reference to journalism that features scandel-mongering, sensationalism, or other unethical or unprofessional practices by news media organisations or journalists. It has been loosely defined as “not quite libel”