E=MC2 PR Dictionary

If you’re new to PR and unsure of the lingo, our E=MC2 PR Dictionary will help you get to grips with the industry’s jargon, buzz-words and terminology.


Above the line: above the line or ATL is mass media-based promotion through media channels such as the internet, TV and radio and print (see also: below the line, through the line). The ‘line’ comes from an accounting term: above the line meaning ‘capital expenditure’ and below the line ‘current expenditure’. For some above the line refers to general awareness marketing and below the line, interest and desire-based marketing.

Account team: the team assigned to a client account / programme.

Advertorial: a paid-for advertisement deliberately styled to look like an editorial (non-advertisement) in a newspaper or magazine.

Audience: the people you want to reach.

Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE): what your editorial coverage would cost if it were advertising space.

Advertising – not PR!: communicates information about a company’s product or service through a paid-for announcement in print / broadcast or digital media.

Audio news release (ANR): pre-taped news releases, sent to radio stations, feature voice actualities of organisation 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.


B2B: public relations communication dedicated to providing information resources between businesses.

Banner: describes a common form of online advertising. A media advert usually displayed at the top of commercial websites.

Below the line: below the line (BTL) advertising is personalised or highly targeted promotion and brand-building through direct mail, flyers, point-of-sale promotions, telemarketing and niche offers (see also: above the line, through the line). The ‘line’ comes from an accounting term: above the line meaning ‘capital expenditure’ and below the line ‘current expenditure’. For some above the line refers to general awareness marketing and below the line, interest and desire-based marketing.

Billing: invoicing a client for services provided.

Blog: a ‘web log’ (often shortened to ‘blog’) is an online opinion editorial which features the writer or guest writer’s own personal thoughts, views and opinions.

Boilerplate: a brief paragraph stating who you are, what you do, and how you do it, usually used as the last paragraph in a news release.

B-roll: background / secondary footage that adds meaning to a sequence or disguises the elimination of unwanted content.

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

Brand identity: how you want the consumer to perceive your product or brand. Includes the company name and logo.

Branding: the process of creating and evolving brands.

Brief: the instructions from a client to a PR agency or directions communicated within a PR agency.

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

Buzz: what’s making news.

Byline: identifies the name of the journalist or author of a piece of editorial and is placed under the headline.


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

Circulation: the number of copies distributed by a newspaper, magazine or other print publications.

City editor: the director of the newspaper’s local news operation. He/she may assign reporters to cover stories. Some newspapers have an assignment editor to do that.

Client: the organisation or individual who employs the PR agency.

Clip / clipping (or cutting): an article cut from a publication or a segment cut from visual footage / audio tape.

Competition: other organisations that represent a threat to a particular business.

Copy: the text produced 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.

Collateral PR: gaining good PR on the back of someone else’s coverage.

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.

Crisis Communications: damage limitation communications that organisations use when experiencing a crisis.

Crisis management: a communications plan 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 and government.


Diary note: information drafted for media about a newsworthy event inviting reporters / photographers to attend.

Direct mail, direct marketing: advertising and printed promotional material such as brochures, flyers, mailshots and other printed or digital communications sent directly to customers via mail, email or courier delivery.

Doorstepping: a term mainly used in media for waiting outside somebody’s home for the appearance of a subject of interest. For example a news photographer or journalist waiting for a celebrity or politician in the hope of an exclusive to sell to the media.


Editor: the person in charge of which news events are covered and how news stories are gathered, angled and written by reportersina newsroom.

Editorial: written materials composed to communicate key messages through newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Embargo: a warning to the media not to publish a news item until the date specified on the release.

Employee relations: dealing and communicating with the employees of an organisation.

e-PR (online PR): this uses the internet / social media to communicate.

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

Exclusive: a news item / feature article offered to a single newspaper, radio, website, or TV station.

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

e-zine: electronic magazine delivered via a website or an email newsletter.


Feature: a broad or in-depth newspaper, magazine, internet, radio or TV article that discusses, analyses or interprets an issue, subject or trend. A feature generally takes longer to research and produce than a news story.

Filler:  a short piece of  human interest material that print and broadcast media can use to either fill space on a slow news day or to provide community interest information.

Freelancer: writer / photographer who sells writing / photography services and is not under regular contract to any one publication or agency.


Geo-marketing (marketing geography): uses geographic location information in marketing promotions. It can be used in any aspect of the marketing mix – product, price, promotion, or place (geo targeting). Geo-marketing is having a direct impact on the development of high street retailing and the reorganisation of retail types.

Geo-targeting: the process of targeting a marketing or advertising campaign at a limited set of consumers based on their physical location.

Ghost-writing: writing generated without published credit to its author and often credited to another.

Guest editorial: an analysis of or commentary on news events or public concerns, written by someone outside the publication considered to be an expert on the subject.


Holding statement: drafted in the event of a crisis situation to address the media. A holding statement will not be released unless the media request a response from an organisation about the crisis.


In-house: public relations that is done in-house (within an organisation) with an internal communications team that handles all aspects of the company’s PR needs, opposed to using an agency.

Integrated campaign: combining multi-marketing communications channels such as online, print, TV and radio, B2B, direct marketing, video and advertising.


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.


Marketing Communications (also integrated marketing communications or marcoms): a joined-up or holistic approach to promoting your organisation’s key selling messages, products and services using marketing, public relations and advertising across one or more marketing channels such as digital, print, radio, television, direct mail / mailshot and personal selling.

Media relations: dealing with journalists and building good working relationships with the broadcast, print and online media.

Media: channel for the communication of information including newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and the internet.

Media drop: arranging to have a celebrity, spokesperson, mascot, etc. drop in on a radio or TV station. It also refers to dropping off creative publicity props and other materials to create buzz and hopefully earn an on-air mention.

Messages: agreed words or statements that an organisation wants to communicate to its audiences.


News angle / news hook: information which is new, important, different, or unusual about a specific event, situation, or person and which makes it newsworthy.

News conference: live news information given 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 press conference.

Newsletter:  news and information updates sent out by organisations to keep clients and staff informed and in touch.

News release: A news story written for and released to media on behalf of an organisation, group or individual.

News value: the key elements of a good news story. It determines how much prominence a news story is given by the media and the audience based on:

  • Impact
  • Significance
  • Controversy
  • Emotion
  • Unusual
  • Prominence
  • Proximity
  • Timeliness
  • Currency
  • Usefulness
  • Educational or interest value

Newswire: an electronic service used for the transmission of breaking news stories or other information.

NIB (news in brief): a collection of short stories or a single story presented in one or two short paragraphs in print or online.


Optimised press release: press release that is optimised for search engine results and released online.


Photocall / photo opportunity: an advance notice to the media stating that there will be a formally organised opportunity at a set time and date to take a press photograph of a particular person or event.

Pinterest: is a virtual visual pin board for posting and sharing images and ideas with other people who share your interests.

Pitch: a full presentation of a public relations campaign / programme, carefully researched and costed.

Picture value: the use and importance of a good photo to enhance the prominence of a news story in the media. Shares the same key elements as a news value (see news value above).

Press office: handles all media enquiries and puts out 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 agency.

Public relations: planned and executed messages to selected media to enable an organisation (or person) to establish and build relationships and favourable environments to increase sales and enhance and safeguard its reputation.

Press release: the most common written form used in public relations, announcing a client’s news and information. Also referred to as a news release (see above). A news story written for and released to media.

PRO (public relations officer): a person assigned to a client account / programme.

Proofread: process of reviewing the final draft of a text to ensure that all errors have been corrected.

Proposal: a document outlining a proposed PR campaign / programme to an existing or potential client.

Public affairs: the process of communicating an organisation’s point of view on issues or causes to political audiences like MPs and lobbying groups.


EMC2-QR-codeQR code: also called quick response codes, are 2-D barcodes that behave like hyperlinks and can be decoded using your smartphone with a QR code reader. They can link to a new product page on your website, a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile, a Google maps reference, vouchers or special offers – just about anything you want to show and tell your customers about.

QR code reader: a scanning device which reads QR codes.

QR code generator: creates QR codes for directing consumers to a new product page on your website, a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile, a Google maps reference, vouchers or special offers – just about anything you want to show and tell your customers about.

Qurify / qurifying: creating QR codes (quick response codes) to make what ever you want more interactive, e.g. to put one on your business card, on flyers for a party or poster to promote your products or services.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): producing greater visibility for a website by planning and adjusting the content, keywords and phrases of a web page in order to improve its position in search results (search engine ranking).

Sector/trade press: media relevant to specific audiences including special interest publications.

Sell-in: a news story or idea which  PR professionals will try to get a journalist to cover or write about.

Sentiment: used to quantify and measure the positive or negative feelings and/or perceptions a public has about a given subject.

Social media: used to enable an individual / organisation to reach a worldwide audience in an instant by using social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg and Stumpleupon.

Social media release (SMR): an enhanced news release, the SMR follows the sample principles of newsworthiness as the traditional news release, but it’s augmented by various bells and whistles such as audio, video, social bookmarking links, photos, and RSS feeds.

Social networks: influential social networking sites include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Digg.

Social news channel: the communications platforms used by people on the internet to engage, exchange information, share views and ideas with their peers, social groups and the public  (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, internet chat rooms and discussion forums).

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

Soundbite: a brief quote taken from a person’s broadcast interview, used in the media to convey a certain idea or opinion.

Spin: taking what’s probably bad news and sugarcoating it so it looks like good news.

Splash: an exciting front page story given prominence so people will take notice of it.

Staff writers: these writers/reporters may be assigned to stories on various beats.

Strapline: a short catchy sentence that represents a business, project or concept used in marketing materials and advertising.

Stringers: part-time correspondents who string news to the media. They are usually paid by the number or length of stories published.


Teaser: a promotion that is intended to create interest in the main campaign which follows.

Through the line: through the line (TTL) refers to promotional activities which combine both below the line (BTL) highly targeted niche marketing (direct mail, point-of-sale promotions, telemarketing) and above the line (ATL) broad media-based marketing (e.g. digital, TV, radio, print). The ‘line’ comes from an accounting term: above the line meaning ‘capital expenditure’ and below the line ‘current expenditure’. For some above the line refers to general awareness marketing and below the line, interest and desire-based marketing.

Traction: used when a press release has received widespread pickup by the media.

Transcript: written outline of a radio or broadcast about a client.


Video news release (VNR): a pre-taped positive news story about an individual or organisation which PRs distribute to TV programme editors and newsrooms. Often prepared in advance for the media to use on a slow news day, to mark a particular event or to air in a crisis.

Voiceover: narrative spoken over video or audio.