How well do you know your PR lingo? Although you may think you’ve come across just about every term there is to know, it’s always helpful to brush up on your knowledge.

That's precisely why we've put together this handy list of terms that every PR professional should know.

Let’s get this vocab lesson going:

1. Angle
The specific focus chosen for a story presented to the media. The angle of a story is usually chosen to suit the focus of each individual publication or broadcast station.

For example, if your client is a manufacturer of headphones and you want to pitch a story to a travel magazine, the angle could be about headphones being a great travel gadget because they are portable.

2. Boilerplate
The section at the end of a press release that gives a brief description of the company. The boilerplate comes just before the media contact information and ensures that the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ of the release is clear.

For example, at the end of a press release sent out by media update, our boilerplate would read:

About media update: media update is an online publication dedicated to reporting on the latest news and information relevant to the South Africa (and African) media, marketing, PR and social media industries.’

3. Byline
A byline is the name of the author of an article, generally printed just below the title. Bylines are useful for giving credit to the author of a piece, and also helpful for readers to know who penned the article.

In the case of this article, the byline reads:

media update’s Aisling McCarthy takes you through 15 terms you need to know to be at the top of your PR game.’

4. Earned media
This is media coverage that has been published by other people and is not paid for. Earned media can be in the form of a retweet, social share or press release being published.

For example, if the above company that produces headphones got a press release published in that travel magazine, the release would count as earned media for the brand. However, if the brand paid for content to be published, it would no longer be classified as earned media, but paid media.

5. Embargo
An agreement between a PR professional and a media source. This is where the PR professional sends unannounced information that cannot be published before an agreed upon date and time.

Embargoes are used to give the media a preview of the information that is to be announced, but without having it published before the brand or the PR pro wants it to be.

For example, if the headphone company had a new model coming out, the PR pro could send the information to the media under embargo to ensure that the content would only be shared once the new headphones had been launched by the company.

6. Engagement
This refers to the total number of interactions with a piece of content. Interactions include Likes, shares, comments, views, etc. Engagement is typically used when referring to social media posts, but it can also be used in relation to press releases.

For example, a social post that received 10 likes, 12 shares and 17 comments would have a total number of 39 engagements.

7. Impressions
A social media metric that measures the number of times your content has been seen. People can see multiple impressions of the same post.

For example, if someone sees a page update in their newsfeed, and then sees the same update when a friend shares it, that would count as two impressions.

8. Lead time
The amount of time needed by journalists to gather information and put together a story. Lead times vary depending on how in depth the story is, as well as the medium that the journalist is working with.

Generally, online publications have the shortest lead time and magazines have the longest.

9. Owned media
This is media coverage that you create and share. Owned media can be shared on a variety of platforms, including websites, blogs and on social media.

If you, as a PR specialist, create content and share it on social media, the company blog or website counts that content as owned media.

10. Pitch
A targeted message that is sent to a journalist to gauge interest in your client. Each pitch needs to be designed specifically for the journalist or publication you are reaching out to, with special emphasis on having the right angle to suit the publication.

Sending out one pitch to various media will lower your chances of being published, as each publication or broadcast station has their own style and topics of interest.

For example, if you were sending out pitches about your client that manufactures headphones, your pitch to a tech magazine would be very different to that of a travel magazine.

11. Press kit
A collection of promotional material (either physical or online) that is provided to members of the press to give them information on a product, service or brand.

Press kits are usually given out at PR events or product launches. Often, they are given with branded USBs that contain all the press kit information on them.

12. Press release
A press release is a news announcement that is submitted to the media by a brand or PR person in an effort to get the news published. Press releases should always have a strong news angle and should always be tailored specifically to the media you are sending it to.
Want to know exactly how to get your press release published? Check out our 10-step guide here.

13. Reach
This metric refers to the number of people who have viewed a particular social post or press release.

For example, if a print publication that has a circulation of 200 000 shares your press release, the reach would be 200 000.

Keep in mind that ‘reach’ differs from ‘impressions’ in that if one person sees your content, that is one person reached. No matter how many times that single person sees your content, that is still only one person you have reached.

14. Traction
This term refers to the interest in your client by a media outlet. An article that continues to grow in reads and engagement is said to be gaining traction.

An an article that received a high number of engagement would be one that received great traction. Conversely though, an article that received no Likes, shares, comments or low reads would have poor traction.

15. UVM (unique visitors per month)
The number of real, individual visitors to a website. UVM is determined by individual IP addresses and is used as a more accurate measure of reach than the number of visits to a site. This is because if a single person visits a site five times, that counts as five website visits, but only one viewer.

UVM can show clients how many people potentially saw their article (...or how many ‘impressions’ it received).

Are there any other PR terms that you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you’ve perfected the PR lingo, catch up with the most important trends of the year in our article, Five PR trends you’ll spot in 2019.