PR Lingo 101: Phrases Every Pro Should Know

B-roll. Byline. Ed Cals. Embargo. Owned media. Press release. UMV.

 

If you’re a PR professional or work with media, you probably use some or all of these terms on a regular basis. We throw these phrases around with each other in the office, but we have to be mindful when speaking with a client or someone who’s not as familiar with public relations (like our friends or family). Heck, there were even some terms I had never heard of before starting my career at Dittoe PR (ed cals, anyone?).

 

Whether it’s an acronym, slang or just a word you’ve never heard of, we PR pros definitely have a language of our own. To help catch you up to speed, below we’ve started a modest list of terms and phrases we use daily. Sprinkle some of this lingo into a conversation with us, and we’ll know you’re a pro (or just someone who has done their homework).

 

PR: Let’s start with the basics – PR stands for “public relations.” My fiancé always gets upset with me when I throw this phrase around, because “not everyone knows what PR stands for.” I definitely try to be mindful when I’m introducing myself and my company for the first time, making sure I say “Dittoe Public Relations” and not just Dittoe PR. While it may be a no-brainer to those in our industry, those outside of our world might not be as sure.

 

Boilerplate: Think of a boilerplate as an “About Me” section. This is a chance to share the most pertinent information about your company. Typically located at the bottom of a press release, a boilerplate usually includes a few sentences about a company that gives the audience an understanding of its history, core services and mission. Including other milestones or industry recognition (like award wins) is acceptable, too.

 

B-roll: We often tell reporters that they can “capture b-roll” when they come out to an event, or that there will be “great b-roll opportunities.” Basically, this just means that there will be a chance for reporters to capture extra footage to go along with their story. B-roll can help make a segment more visually pleasing, just so you’re not watching a talking head the whole time. Know when you watch a TV segment and you see all those fancy camera angles? Yeah, that’s b-roll.

 

Byline: A byline is a fancy term we use for a guest article, contributed article, op-ed, etc. A byline can often serve as an alternative to a traditional interview-to-story coverage and gives media outlets quality content to add to their queue. Bylines are typically authored by a “thought leader” (there’s another term for ya) at a company about a topic in their industry in which they are considered an expert in. Bylines are our best friends, but they can also be our worst enemies (PR pros – you understand).

 

Embargo: I feel like a secret agent when I’m working with an embargo. Embargos are fun, but they require a lot of trust in the process. Embargos are used when you have a story or an announcement to make, but don’t want media to share it until X day or X time. They can definitely work in your favor, allowing reporters to gather all the information and interviews they need before the news is shared with the public. If you want, you can even give a reporter an “exclusive” (so many PR terms, so little time), but embargos allow every reporter the same fair chance. Once an embargo is “lifted,” that allows a reporter to hit the publish button. It’s really cool to see that embargo lift and have a flood of stories come in all at once.

 

Ed Cal: Sweet, sweet ed cals. For someone who was completely new in the industry at one point (ahem, moi), I had no idea what this stood for. Are you ready for it? Editorial calendar. Great. But now you’re probably thinking, what’s an editorial calendar? Think of editorial calendars as a way for publications to map out their calendar year. Typically aimed toward advertisers, ed cals help us figure out what a publication might be writing about on any given week, month or quarter. If I see that a magazine is planning to write about how to properly dispose of hazardous waste in October, I might reach out in June saying that I have the perfect source for their article. Thank you, ed cals.

 

In-house: The exact opposite of a PR agency. When companies do things “in-house,” that means they don’t have a third party helping them. Most of the clients we work with don’t have an in-house PR team, hence why they work with us. In the PR world, people will usually ask if you work in-house or at an agency. Working in-house is very different than working in an agency, and vice versa. But PR is PR, and we love ‘em all.

 

Pitch: Pitching is at the heart of what we do every day. Probably a little more self-explanatory than most, a pitch is just that – we are “pitching” an idea or story to a reporter, hoping that they’ll find interest and share with their audience. Think of a business pitch – you’re usually trying to sell yourself or your company during a pitch. We do the same in our pitching. But at Dittoe PR, we do things a little differently. We take the time to craft unique, meaningful pitches that are personalized to each media outlet or contact. We specialize in telling stories not selling products or services. We also take the time to research who we’re pitching, which helps us craft our pitch even more.

 

Trade publication: You can probably easily name top national media (CNN, Forbes, Mashable and so on), and you can probably name some local publications, too. But when it comes to trade … that’s usually a different story. Trade publications are targeted to a specific industry or audience that work in that industry. The general public typically doesn’t read these types of publications (unless reading Chemical Processing gets you jazzed) but landing an interview with a trade publication might be the perfect fit for your client’s audience.

 

UMV: I’ll give it to ya straight – UMV stands for unique monthly visitors. A UMV references how many individual people are visiting a website each month. Every website as a different UMV, and it often changes month-to-month. UMVs are important in our industry, as it helps us illustrate the value behind media coverage and, in some case, calculate advertising value (how much it would have cost you to pay to be in that publication). We also use terms like “readership” and “media impressions” to track and analyze media metrics (I could write a novel at this point with how many terms I’m throwing at you!).

 

Well, there you have it! While this list doesn’t come close to touching all the jargon we use regularly, I hope this is a good start. If any of the above sparks your interest or you think there’s a service your business could benefit from, contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com.

Want a New Car? Work in PR? You’ve Got the Tools to Save

A couple of weeks ago I was driving north on Keystone Ave. in Indianapolis when suddenly… rrrrrrRRRRRwwww . The sound came out of nowhere, and it wasn’t too loud. Then—and here’s the worst part—I put my foot down on the pedal to accelerate and the tachometer shot up to over 3,000 RPMs! Before I could react, my car launched into gear and sped up like rocket. Instinctively I put on my hazard lights and pulled over to the side of the road.

After I mentally patted myself on the back for handling a car mechanical issue like Tony Kanaan, reality set in: my car was toast; I needed a new set of wheels.

For me, sitting in a car dealer’s office is about as fun as visiting the dentist. Nevertheless, I found that some important public relations skills translate over to buying a new car. The first is research.

Research
You should determine which vehicle fits your needs and narrow down the targets for further analysis. In this way researching to buy a car is equivalent to the research PR professionals do when they create media lists.  Rather than using Cision to find reporters, dealerships are your search engine to find a vehicle.  Public relations professionals are naturals at the research part of the car buying process.

It’s also important to know the market and determine the best and worst time to buy a car. For example, you’re more likely to save money by buying a car at the end of month when dealers are more desperate to reach their quota than at the beginning of the month. When to buy a car is like pitching a story: there’s a limited window of time to make the most impact. As public relations professionals we know not to pitch to reporters on deadline. Car buyer should also know not to buy a car soon after the new car models are for sale.

While taking a car for a test drive, be sure to inspect the brake pads, tire wear, condition of the engine and note any scratches and dings if you’re looking at a used car. Just like car hunters should research the car, PR professionals should read recent articles from the reporter they intend to pitch.

Communication
Public relations is all about effective communication. Pitching is a give-and-take: when the PR professional provides a journalist information, they receive coverage in return.  Moreover, as PR professionals we’re naturally careful with words.

An effective communication tactic is—wait for it— silence. Let the dealer do the talking, after all, they’re the people actively selling you a car. If you wait long enough you may receive a price reduction or an added feature.

Negotiation
The SWAT approach is effective for negotiating a car deal. For example, say you’re looking to spend around $25,000 for a car.

Start: $22,000
Want: $25,000
Accept: $26,000
Terminate negotiation: Anything over $26,000

You can initially offer a price far lower than the Kelly Blue Book value of the car and wait for the counter offer. The moment the dealer feels like the sale is slipping away is when you’re most likely to get the best deal. In a sense, sticking to the prices you have in mind is like staying on message in public relations. Consistency builds recognition and improves understanding, both for a brand and an offer on a car.

Just like PR professionals must research, communicate and negotiate in order to gain coverage for a client, a car buyer researches, communicates and (most importantly) negotiates before buying a purchase. The purchase of a new car is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. But for a client, leaving the company’s brand in the hands of PR professional is just as important.