A Few PR Terms You Need to Know Now


In a world where brands have become publishers and can broadcast their messages directly to consumers, PR professionals have seen their responsibilities shift and morph with the changing times.

While much of what PR pros do during a typical day in 2016 is the same as what they might have been doing in 2005 or even 1995, a whole lot is different — even from just a few years ago. So no matter if you consider this a primer or a refresher, here are a few PR terms you need to know now, at a time when PR teams increasingly are responsible for social media and SEO objectives:

• Owned Media: Brands today have a tremendous opportunity to communicate directly to their target customers through media channels that they control or “own” — their websites, blogs, and social media accounts. While it may take time to build up audiences on these channels, brands have a chance to directly influence audiences who self-select to engage with that brand and its products. The content on these owned channels is typically controlled by PR and marketing teams.

• Earned Media: This term refers to media coverage that a brand “earns” when journalists organically cover news from the brand or include it or its representatives in a story of the journalist’s own choosing. This used to be the only place that PR professionals concentrated on when executing campaigns. In 2016, earned media also can refer to the attention a brand garners from its followers on social media, who generate their own grassroots, viral content when they share and comment on the brand and its products.

• Paid Media: When a brand pays to buy display ads, sponsorships, search advertising, or any similar promotional opportunities, this is deemed to be paid media. This term’s meaning has grown, as well, as it now encompasses social media influencer marketing, where brands compensate bloggers and “influencers” to incorporate them into the content of blog posts and social media posts that are placed in front of their audiences and followers. Not just your traditional advertising, this can encompass Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter ads and sponsored posts that can work as part of an integrated PR and social media strategy.

• Social Media Influencers: These terms refer to people who act as intermediaries with target audiences by sharing or even endorsing a brand’s message. Typically social media influencers are opinion leaders or key members of your specific target audience.

• Tone / Sentiment: Getting media coverage or social media attention is one thing. Getting the right buzz is what’s crucial. Tone or sentiment is a measurement of what is being said — how a brand, person or issue is being portrayed in media. Typically it’s categorized broadly as neutral, positive or negative. However, more nuanced degrees or shades of tonality can also be identified.

• Engagements: Refers to social media analytics that measure the number of social media interactions a post or piece of content garners: Likes, Shares, Comments, Clicks, Pins, Re-Tweets, etc. The better and less promotional your content, the higher your engagement numbers typically climb.

• Bounce Rates: Traditionally the domain of marketing teams and webmasters, PR teams increasingly are focusing on the bounce rate, which refers to the statistics on website visitors who stay on a site for five seconds or less, or those users who visit only one page of a website. Better targeting and more engaging content help lower bounce rates and keep website visitors more engaged.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of PR terms that you need to know and juggle when dealing with key constituencies and clients in 2016. Consider this a snapshot of some of the things that have been added to the plates of PR teams in the modern age.

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