PR jargon for dummies

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8 minutes read

What you always wanted to know about PR but were too afraid to ask a publicist.

Fans of the outrageous Absolutely Fabulous could be excused for thinking PR is all champagne, air kisses and opening nights.

But behind the glam red carpets, photoshoots and headlines, there’s a secret world of embargoes, pitch plans, sponsored content and media monitoring that very few see.

Aruga is here to check your name off the VIP guest list, usher you behind the velvet rope and welcome you to our inner-sanctum as we share our insider’s guide to industry terms: from A(ccount Management) to pre-dawn weather cross Z(zzzzs).

Account management

Necessary but not at all glamorous. Account management includes all the admin and behind-the-scenes stuff that needs to happen to keep a campaign ticking along. Think client liaison, new project briefings, meetings, filing, updates, strategy and scopes of work.

Audience reach

Good PR attracts eyeballs and earholes. Audience reach measures the estimated number of people who have read an article, clicked on a blog post, heard a radio bulletin or watched a TV news item where your campaign or client was mentioned.


Not to be confused with the hypnotic ASMR, ASR stands for Advertising Sales Revenue and assigns a dollar value to a piece of media coverage based on the amount it would cost to occupy the same broadcast time or print space as a paid advertisement. People are increasingly moving away from measuring ASR as values can fluctuate wildly and don’t factor in all types of media (hello ABC, you gorgeous public broadcaster, you).


If you want to get your client’s face on TV, you need to present producers with the full visual package. B-roll is secondary footage that editors can cut into a news package to establish atmosphere, location and context. If your client wants to chat about the weather, schedule an outside interview and tee up sunlovin’ tourists or lifesavers to frolic on film.


If a media release or a blog post is a beautifully crafted narrative, a boilerplate is a tl;dr disclaimer at the bottom. It’s a brief description of your client or campaign – only a few sentences at most – summarised at the end of a written content piece.

Clips – unique and syndicated

Clips is short for clippings and stems from ye’ olde practice of cutting an article out of a newspaper for bragging rights. Fast forward to the digital age and clips now arrive as electronic summaries of client mentions in articles, bulletins, blogs and programs. Ain’t technology grand? Unique clips refer to one-off publications or the source of coverage while syndicated clips refer to media networks that publish stories across several mastheads or programs. For example, a hotel review first published in Escape (unique clip) then runs on, and in The Daily Telegraph (syndicated clips).

Cover story

The holy grail of PR – a feature that graces the front page of a magazine or newspaper. These hero articles are the result of a lot of planning, pitching, negotiation and legwork and are hard to come by (unless you’re a scandal-plagued royal).

Earned media

Earned media is any media coverage you, well, earned for your client. That is, any publicity broadcast or published by a third-party outlet that you didn’t have to pay for. Earned media comes from pitching stories and talent, responding to journalist queries, staging media events and working every contact in your little black (Face)book.


Sometimes you want to lock in media coverage ahead of a public announcement, so you give journalists the heads-up and make them pinky-swear not to spill the beans before an agreed-upon date and time. It’s pretty common practice and usually works because journalists appreciate the advance notice and opportunity to prepare a story.

EOC report

An End-of-Campaign report is a great resource for two main reasons:

  1. It gives you the chance to summarise the success of a campaign and for clients, the chance to digest a snapshot of the work and wins involved.
  2. It’s a valuable tool for reflecting on learnings, making recommendations and analysing what worked well and what didn’t for future campaigns.


Exclusives help you lock in coverage by offering first-run stories and unreported angles to an outlet ahead of sharing the story with other media. Make sure you’re clear upfront what your exclusive entails: are they the only media outlet getting the story, are they the only print/radio/TV outlet offered the story or, does everyone have the story but they have a new spokesperson or fresh facts?

Key messages

Key messages are the main points you want your target audience to clock and remember. These foundational talking points should pepper media releases and spokesperson interviews. Ultimately, you want your key messages to find their way into articles and bulletins through the power of suggestion (and strategic, repeated reinforcement).

Lead times

Different media outlets have different deadlines and different campaigns have different media goals. To secure legacy features and in-depth pieces – say a documentary or four-page magazine spread – long-lead pitching should start months before a campaign’s key go-time. Mid-lead pitching ramps up weeks before key dates to secure feature articles and those prized covers while short-lead and reactive pitching occurs immediately before launch to lock in last-minute coverage.

Live cross

A live weather cross on a popular TV breakfast program or a live radio outside broadcast – what could possibly go wrong? (Spoiler alert: quite a bit, actually) Live crosses can be panic-inducing for some – and not just those of us in PR – but also a valuable opportunity to present a client or campaign in real-time: unscripted, unedited and undeniably authentic.

Media call

Get the squad together and make a splash when launching a campaign or presenting a newsworthy story. Media calls gather news crews from far and wide for an all-inclusive media opportunity: previews and briefings, interviews, B-roll filming and photoshoots.

Media kit

Compile everything you think a journalist might need to develop a story on your client and present it to them with a flourish*. Think media releases, boilerplates, fact sheets, FAQs, bios, high-res photos and b-roll footage. Once upon a time, these were hand-delivered in hard copy, now they’re usually emailed. Progress, eh?

*Flourish is absolutely optional. Comprehensive media kit is not.

Media monitoring

Media monitoring services are usually outsourced to a third-party provider that scours media coverage for mentions of your client. It’s a great way to learn what’s being said about your client – and who is listening – to safeguard their reputation, measure their share of voice, see how they stack up to their competitors and identify new media opportunities.

Owned media

Go your own way with content and channels created for and owned by your client. Company blogs, in-house magazines, corporate social media profiles and videos produced by and starring your client are all examples of owned media.

Paid media

Social media is a pay-to-play space so dropping dollars to buy ads and boost posts is a smart move in any integrated PR and social media strategy. Print and online publications also work in the paid media space, offering advertorials and sponsored content. Paid media must be clearly labelled as such but you have more say in the end result than you would with earned media where editors have the final word.


A pitch is a tailored and targeted story idea designed to drum up interest in your client. How it’s crafted will make or break whether an editor considers your story idea or sends it straight to the cute lil’ dustbin icon in their inbox. A short pitch is a good pitch – once you’ve hooked their interest you can follow up with media kits, interviews, photos and videos.

Pitch plan

You may only have one story to sell but with a little bit of nous and a lot of creativity, you can compile a solid pitch plan that pulls out unique angles, identifies fresh interview talent, draws on contacts and connections and matches them to ideal media outlets. One story = dozens of ways to tell it.


Some clients will engage you for short project-based work such as launching a new product, highlighting a win or dealing with a crisis. Clients who engage you for longer periods are retainer clients. They pay an agreed-upon monthly fee for PR services and work with you to establish priorities, focuses and activities. This means you can take on brand-building and legacy work and identify new opportunities for publicity all year round.

Scope of work

Before you dive in, it’s great practice to develop a document clearly outlining your deliverables, deadlines and resources and share it with your client. This scope of work will keep you accountable and on track and help your client track the campaign’s progress.

Thought leadership

No, thought leadership is not a euphemism for brainwashing (but that would make things easier…). It’s a tried-and-tested way to position your client as a subject matter expert. If they can speak to a subject with authority and credibility, promote them via podcasts, speaking opportunities, panels, forums, opinion editorials and insight features.

Top tier

Not all media is created equal. A national TV current affairs program, syndicated radio show or metropolitan masthead has greater reach than regional titles, blogs and niche podcasts. Top-tier media are those outlets that pull the biggest audience share.


VNR = Video News Release. RNR = Radio News Release. You won’t always get TV crews and radio reporters rocking up to your media call, so why not take the media call to them? VNRs and RNRs provide stretched newsrooms with pre-recorded interviews and audio grabs with your client they can cut into news bulletins and packages. These are great if you want to reach regional and remote newsrooms without racking up frequent flyer miles.

So there you have it – the A-Z of public relations. Still confused?

Aruga is on standby to champion your wins, navigate those losses, manage media and promote your proof points.

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