The Ultimate PR Jargon Buster

From boilerplate and lead time, to retainer and standfirst, there are plenty of words and terms you’ll hear from PR practitioners, but you may not know what they actually mean. To help, we’ve compiled the ultimate PR jargon buster.

Above the line

Advertising that is ‘talking at you’, e.g. television, radio, posters.


Paid-for article in newspaper or magazine that is written in the style of a regular editorial article.

AVE (Advertising Value Equivalents)

Used to place a financial value on the media coverage achieved. It’s total rubbish. Sack your PR agency if they tell you to use it.

Below the line

Advertising that is ‘talking to you’, e.g. direct mail, point of purchase, leaflets.


A short company description found at the end of a press release.


An outline of a job or task you want completed by another person or agency


The total number of copies of a print publication that is available for readers, whether through subscriptions or newsstands.

Colour separation

A fee charged by some publications to publish a photograph. Based on the practice many years ago when the printing process required different plates for the different colours when printing photographs. 


Written material used for a variety of purposes, such as text for an advertisement, a press release, an emailer, sales material or brochures.


The production of written material for publications, advertising, marketing materials, websites etc.

Corporate identity

The ways in which companies identify and brand themselves. This can be through logos, house style and uniforms.

Crisis management

Having a plan in place that can be effectively actioned when something goes wrong for an organisation.


Measuring the impact of a public relations campaign.

Holding statement

A pre-prepared statement used by a business or organisation in readiness for being approached by the media about an issue. It is often used in relation to handling a PR crisis and is updated as events change.

Key messages

The most important points you want to get across to your audience

Lead time

The amount of time needed by reporters to gather information for their story

Media training

Training to help prepare a person for being interviewed by the media.

Media monitoring

Monitoring a company’s press, online and broadcast coverage.

Media relations

Dealing with and building up good working relationships with journalists.

Native advertising

A form of paid media where the advert matches the visual design of media it lives within so it looks and feels like natural content.

Notes to editors

A section of text found beneath a press release or statement that provides additional and background information to aid the understanding the story.

Owned media

Content created by you and your client, such as company blogs, company website and corporate social media profiles.

Paid media

Not just your traditional advertising, this can encompass Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter ads.


A presentation of a recommended public relations programme, generally carefully researched and costed.

Photo call

An invite sent to the media to attend an event that offers an opportunity to take photographs in relation to a news story.


A series of digital computer files, usually either digital audio or video that is released periodically and made available for download.

Press release

An article produced by or on behalf of an organisation and submitted to the media giving information on a particular matter.

Press kit

A set of documents given to media, usually containing press releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other relevant material to them, about a client or their product/service.

Press office

A dedicated person or group of people who handle press and media enquiries, and issue related information, on behalf of an organisation to the press and media.


Used in relation to printed publications to indicate the number of people who are likely to have seen the publication i.e. not just the person who received, bought or subscribed to it.


Common method of working with a PR agency – it’s when the client pays the agency an agreed amount each month and in return receives a specified allocation of hours.


Copy that sits underneath the title of an article and gives a bit more information about the story. It often acts as a short introduction to the piece.


Can also be referred to as publics; audiences important to the organization or have an involvement/relationship with that organisation.

Target market

The audience that an organisation wants to communicate its key messages to.

Some of the above have been supplied courtesy of the CIPR (Chartered Institute for Public Relations). Its full list of terms can be found in its PR dictionary