Marketing shoptalk gets pretty confusing sometimes. We throw around jargon like “pitch” and “re-branding” and “click rate” like we’re talking about the weather. To combat this muddle of lingo, here’s a glossary that will hopefully put some of the confusion about all these buzzwords to rest.

First thing’s first: let’s start with the basics.

  • Public Relations: According to Public Relations Society of America, PR can be defined as:
    “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics”. This is more than your average Olivia Pope-crisis-management-top-secret-clients definition. PR is really just about advocating and building relationships—relationships with customers, with the public and with other companies. So, yes, sometimes that includes going into “crisis mode” and telling “your people” to get on it, but most of the time it’s simply making the public aware of your client, what they do, and how they can help people. PR is the type of earned media that public relations specialists are trained to develop. No matter the client, product or service we’re representing, our job is to advocate and build relationships between our client and their target audience(s), so that at the end of the day, the customers believe in the product or service, and spread the word about it’s quality and credibility. And as we all know, you can’t put a price tag on that sort of word-of-mouth promotion.
  • Advertising: Contrary to popular belief, advertising and PR are not mutually exclusive. Merriam-Webster puts it quite nicely: Advertising (n): the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements

“Calling something to the attention of the public”? That sounds pretty familiar. In reality, advertising and PR are pretty good friends. Advertising is the creative juice that powers those little $4 million, 30 second ads that have Americans crowding around the TV during Superbowl commercial breaks. Yeah, advertising can be a pretty big deal, especially if used effectively—targeting the right markets at the right time, using the right media. Advertising is your paid reputation. You are able to craft the messaging, the content and the images that go along with your ad. It’s helpful in building awareness of a product, service or brand, but at the end of the day, it really needs to be coupled with effective public relations tactics for it to truly be successful.

Now that that’s cleared up, here are a few more industry-specific words that you may need to know:

    • Pitch: Curve ball, anyone? Not quite. It’s an idea about a client that is crafted and sent to newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs for them to write about. Strong pitches are key because editors receive a slew email pitches and are likely to stop reading if the pitch and message are not meticulously crafted to be convincing and intriguing.


    • Press release: This is different than a pitch, mostly because it isn’t written by a third party, such as a newspaper or magazine. Good press releases are key because they can set the stage for a company’s image, essentially meaning you (as the writer) are in control of what is said about a client. Press releases and controlled press coverage are at the heart of an effective public relations campaign.


  • Re-branding: This term gets tossed around often, especially as older companies realize they have some catching up to do with their new media-based competition. However, it’s not just about redesigning an outdated logo. Re-branding takes the logo, the slogan, the campaign, and the company’s mission and purpose and revives it. A little coffee company recently underwent this process as it pampered and cleaned up its logo to focus more on a global campaign. Careful though, your rebrand could turn out like our friends down on those Florida orange farms. Yikes.