The Luminous Dictionary: Key Tech PR Definitions
Tech PR terms made simple…
No matter where you work, every industry has its idiosyncrasies and jargon. Tech PR may be about helping businesses to communicate effectively, but that doesn’t make it totally without blame. Despite our very best efforts to be transparent and accessible, we’re sometimes queried by confused clients about the PR terms we use.
To every client, friend, or partner who’s ever been baffled by our tech PR speak: we’re sorry. We’d like to make it up to you (and prevent it from happening again) by providing this handy dictionary of common PR definitions. Though we’ll also try to use less jargon in the future, our guide to tech PR terms should help you better follow what your agency is going on about!
As a side note, we’d like to point out something interesting we discovered while researching this article. On checking the Chartered Institute of Public Relations guide to common PR terms, we were dismayed to see that it’s a little outdated when it comes to explaining the digital side of PR.
For starters, CIPR refers to online PR as ‘E-PR’: very early 2000s. It then defines the practice as “Communicating over the web and using new technology to effectively communicate with stakeholders.” Though not technically incorrect, it’s a little simplistic. We’d argue that online/offline PR is not a significant distinction: a tech PR campaign that involves print media can also target online channels such as blogs, online publications, YouTubers, social media and more.
The CIPR’s definition of social media is also not quite right:
“Social media can take many different forms, including internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, to name a few. Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking).”
The way we engage in tech PR has evolved to keep up with the changing face of the media. Today, anyone with a smartphone and access to the internet can report on breaking news or become an ‘influencer’. As one of the leading professional bodies, we’re a little disappointed that CIPR’s glossary of PR terms doesn’t reflect what our industry looks like in 2018. It certainly doesn’t offer the utmost reassurance that they have a thorough understanding of the digital aspects of our industry, but we digress… Keep reading for our key tech PR definitions!
An article briefing is a simple plan/structure that PRs use when pitching thought leadership content to magazines or blogs. In the tech PR world, these briefings usually set up a problem, then explore how technology is working to overcome these challenges. Article briefings summarise the key points of the article, as well as detailing how long the article will be. If the publication’s editorial team like the sound of the briefing, they’ll commission you to write the whole article. Creating these briefings ensures you don’t waste time writing articles that won’t be accepted by publications.
A byline is a simple as it sounds: it’s the line that details who wrote a particular article. If your PR team says that an article will be “bylined by you”, it means that you will be named as the author of the article – even if you received help writing it.
A case study is a written account that provides a detailed story of how your business has benefitted an individual or organisation. However, don’t confuse it with a testimonial. A case study needs to set up a provable real-life problem that your business has helped to resolve. For B2B tech businesses, it will help if your clients are willing to provide before and after figures, as well as a positive quote. Most importantly, your case studies need to be ‘media friendly’: that is, willing and ready to tell their story to the press. Journalists live for case studies and often won’t feature businesses without them. You can’t keep wheeling the same old case studies, either. Each PR push will need a fresh case study that hasn’t appeared in the media yet.
Domain authority is a ‘score’ that signifies how well a website is expected to rank on a search engine results page. One is low, and 100 is the best rating according to the system. Having a link to your website from a site that ranks high for domain authority is good for your site’s SEO. Sites with ‘good’ domain authority tend to be well-respected, such as university websites and national news outlets. Read more about domain authority with Moz.
An embargo is a ban on publishing or releasing information before a certain time or date. For example, a press release might state: “Embargoed until 24 January, 00:01 AM”. While journalists usually honour embargos, they are occasionally broken.
Offering a publication an exclusive means they’re the only ones with access to your story. They will have the right to ‘break’ the story, publishing it before anyone else hears it. Publications are highly competitive, so if you have a good story an exclusive can be a very attractive offer. Of course, this only works if you have an exciting news story.
A feature is a type of news piece created by j0urnalists. It is typically longer than a news story and explores a topic in more detail. It usually focuses on the ‘human interest’ angle of a story, and includes more interviews and case studies. You can read more about features here.
Forward features are editorial schedules released by publications. They allow anyone and everyone to know what the publication will be focussing on over the next year. As well as a list of topics, they usually include a deadline for submissions if you have something to contribute to a particular issue. Response Source has a helpful guide to forward features.
If you work with a PR team, there’s a chance they’ll ghostwrite content for you. This means that although the PR writes the article, they will not receive credit for the article. Your name will be on the byline, helping to boost your reputation.
Hard news refers to the sorts of stories you’ll see on the front page of a newspaper, or ‘above the fold’ on an online news site. They are usually of national or international importance and often cover topics such as politics or economics. If your business is providing a solution to a timely issue that is having a big impact on many people, there’s a chance your business may fit into a hard news story on the topic. Hard news stories are generally serious, and typically don’t involve lifestyle topics.
This is a social media term. Impressions refers to the number of times your content was displayed in people’s social media streams. Reach refers to the number of unique people who saw your social media content. One person could have multiple impressions for a single piece of content. Engagement is the number of times someone does something with your social media content, whether that’s liking, commenting, sharing, or simply clicking on it.
Influencers are individuals with large, and often incredibly loyal, followings. An influencer could be a celebrity, social media personality, or even a blogger or vlogger. They are called influencers because they have the power to influence their followers. If an influencer endorses your business, it could sway their followers to form a positive opinion of your brand. Read more about using influencers on our blog.
Also called integrated communications, this is the approach we use here at Luminous. An integrated strategy uses tech PR, marketing, and social media to ensure your stakeholders have a seamless experience with your brand. Whether they visit your website, check you out on social media, or network with you at an event, every piece of contact they have with your business will reinforce your image as an innovative thought leader. Read more about integrated marketing on our blog.
As we all know, KPI stands for key performance indicator: it refers to those crunchy numbers that tell you whether you’re on track and meeting your targets. When it comes to measuring the success of your PR campaign, traditional KPIs are things like publication readership and circulation figures. However, as PR becomes more digital, KPIs can include things like web traffic, social media shares, newsletter views, and links to your website.
Link building is an SEO technique that involves gaining links to your website from other sites. As we mentioned earlier, this is particularly effective if the other sites rank well for domain authority. PR campaigns can have a link building aspect if the publication includes a link to your site. However, PR has so much more to offer than just link building, and gaining links shouldn’t be the sole focus of your activity.
Newsjacking is a PR tactic that involves gaining exposure for your business by using news topics that are already trending in the media. The beauty of newsjacking is that you don’t need to generate a ‘buzz’ about a story – the buzz is already there. You’re just slotting your brand in so its seen by anyone reading about the story. Newsjacking usually starts by preparing a statement or opinion about a big news story that is relevant to your industry or business. Your PR team can then approach journalists who are writing about the topic, who may need additional comments. Check out our blog post on newsjacking for more info.
Your PR team might ask whether you have any ‘newsworthy’ stories that can be shared with the media. A newsworthy story should be new, and relevant to a publication’s readers. Of course, different publications will have different definitions for what’s newsworthy: larger and national publications have higher standards. While you may think your new office is a hot story, it’s probably not that interesting to other people.
A newswire is a service used by PR teams to broadcast press releases to journalists. Publications can then search for press releases that are relevant to them. Though there’s nothing wrong with using a newswire, they are completely saturated with press releases and journalists often just use them to look out for big names. Smaller stories can be missed this way, so newswires are best used as part of a larger strategy.
Pitching is when a PR team reaches out to journalists to see if they would be interested in publishing a client’s story. They might do this via a phone call or email, and they could be pitching a press release or an article briefing – it all depends on what’s right for the client.
A press release is a statement PR teams use to pitch stories to journalists or publish on a newswire. Press releases are written in a similar format to news stories and include all the key details of a story, as well as a couple of quotes from key figures. A press release is not the same as a blog post, and you need to have a newsworthy story to make it worthwhile. This piece on the Guardian has all the information you need to write a press release.
This is a style of PR activity intended to promote the profile of an individual or business and let audiences know they’re an expert in their field. Thought leadership can involve a number of approaches. It could feature ghostwritten articles bylines by your CEO, or it could involve someone in your business providing a meaty quote that shows you know your industry and marketplace inside-out.
We hope our dictionary of tech PR definitions is handy! Have a PR term you think we’ve missed? Let us know over on Twitter and we’ll do our best to provide you with a definition.