Third-party sites or printed publications which source and run stories from other media organisations but which may not be part of the same operating company or group – often in overseas markets.

Biography (bio)

Overview (summary) of a person’s professional career, current role, professional objectives and personal situation in reference to their own career-building, be it personal or in business.


The boilerplate is a standard appendix which goes at the end of a press release. Once created, it can be added to the bottom of all of your future releases, until such a time as the information on it changes. It should begin with an About Section, which gives one or two short paragraphs about your company; just a simple statement which echoes any pre-existing text you may have in your company brochures or on your web site. Something like, “XYZ Property is a leading developer of boutique condominium projects in South London. The company specialises in mid-rise high-yield developments of exceptional quality. Previous successful projects include The Maltings Residence and Victoria Tower, New Street.”


Written or spoken (or preferably both) instructions to the writer to prepare a press release. The quality of the brief has a heavy leaning on the quality of the resulting press release. It should cover the communication objective, key messages, product and brand info and any other stuff crucial to preparing an effective release.

Call to action

Short closing sentence designed to encourage further actions, and typically containing a verb; “visit our booth on the lower ground floor.”

Coherence (communications)

Coherent messaging describes the effective alignment of all of your corporate communications to the public via the media across all of your communication channels. A radio interview about your new factory should carry the same underlying message as your newspaper article on the current jobs market – that you are a leading company, and that whether you are talking about your expansion plans or your recruitment strategy, you will always come back to your key messages, be they about your brand, product or operations.

Coherency (communications)

The combined ‘punch’ of a collection of media messages heading in the same direction, the strength of which is retained by keeping the messages together. Confused or mixed messaging have little coherency, and thus very little punch.

Communication objective

The actual reason for writing the press release, and the strategic and tactical missions of the business which the press release is supposed to support.

Crisis conditions

The sequence of events leading up to the current situation, their likely severity and the potential ramifications of leaving our position undefended. It is important to be in possession of as many facts as possible in order to make decisions based on premium situational awareness, i.e.- knowing the ins and outs of our specific crisis conditions.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Super-broad and often cringe-inducing lightweight collective realisation of an organisation’s desire, real or otherwise, to show it is a responsible member of the community. Often focusing on tiny fund-raising activities which give excuses for writing press releases (which in turn is cheaper than buying advertising), CSR messaging may be treated sceptically by editors. We will cover this in depth in a later guide.


The persistence, believability and honesty of our approach to on-going management of the company’s market position, or in the case of an individual, their public reputation.


The ability to produce a desired or intended result.

Holding statement

Internal document used to prepare all members of the crisis management team on how to respond to media requests for an official statement. The purpose of the holding statement is not to publicly announce a formal response to a situation, but to provide acknowledgement of a situation whilst issuing the smallest amount of potential culpability possible.

Inflammatory (communications)

Any items of information contained within the holding statement that can exacerbate the situation. A well-written holding statement should contain zero potentially inflammatory nuggets of information or acceptance of situational conditions.

Key messages

Two, three or four short and true statements which we are trying to get across to the media.


File containing visual representation of how the feature will look. It is composed of text, images and the columns and borders “laid out” by the magazine’s graphic designer.


Graphical and easily identifiable representation of the company’s brand (and also possibly its hallmarks).


The collective group of people and organisations to which we would like to communicate and thereby sell our product, service, personal profile, brand qualities or key messaging.

Massaging (of facts)

Whilst never a good idea to submit false information to the media, certain facts or statistics can be presented in such a way as to make them more or less prominent or important. If your market share is a disappointing 9%, up slightly from last year’s crappy 8%, then that’s great news; your year-on-year performance has improved by a market-leading 12.5%.

Media Questions & Answers (Q&A)

List of possible questions you’re likely to be asked in any sort of interview. Make sure it’s tight and all answers reflect key messages.

Media Value

Very, very rough guide for calculating estimated advertising value of a published story. Poor PR companies use this industry-standard measure to falsely inflate the value of the work they do. To work it out, you need to know the cost of a full-page advertisement in the publication divided by the percentage of the editorial space given to your published feature. It does not quantify market relevance though, and is therefore quite meaningless.


Sub-site hosted separately to the company’s main website, often to allow development centred on a single product and presented in a way that is unique from the main site.


The publishing of information by media outlets which is either incorrect or presented in such a way that it may be perceived in a way that is different to what the person making the statement intended.


Paying a company or individual to complete or take control of specific tasks or duties. Big companies outsource their PR to public relations companies, who in turn outsource their event management tasks to event management companies; it’s rather like a crippling expensive waltz.

PDF format

Handy document format for PRs as it enables images and text to be combined and “set”, so partners and clients can review content and make notes but cannot change the information; ideal for PR contracts, but also perfect for editors to send to interviewees for fact-checking purposes (again, journalists, please do this!).


A word of dual meaning in publishing, as print articles are “set in stone” once printed, and subsequent to this, have a long “coffee table life” or half-life.


The act of giving selflessly; or, from a PR perspective, a common means of adding credibility to the marketing activities of a company or individual.

Positioning statement (or personal positioning statement)

A short statement from a company or individual indicating the way it/he/she wishes or aims to be perceived by the market.

PR plan

A detailed document containing a written and graphically represented strategy of how the company or individual intends to use public relations in order to achieve their goals. The plan will typically contain a calendar of events presented in graphical format which outlines what is to happen, when and where, and how forthcoming events and activities will support the overall PR strategy. Don’t worry, we’ll look at this later.

Preparatory (communications)

The holding statement is a pro-active document, not a reactive one. It is produced in anticipation of the media contacting us for a response on a crisis story, and is NOT for general release (such as we would issue a press release or official response).

Press release

Official public relations announcement given to media organisations to declare one or a number of developments within a company (or by an individual).

Press release format

The layout of essential text, marking and composite elements which make up a press release. Releases are less likely to be dismissed when adhering to the accepted industry format.

Print delay

Number of days between the magazine closing its doors for content (“close the issue”) and the final published magazine being run at the printers.


In the case of public relations communications, the appropriateness of communications activities to their intended audiences.

Second channel

The handy and potentially lifesaving backchannel, or “second chance to correction,” familiar to anyone who has watched Thirteen Days.

Sentence case

A typing (caps) style whereby only the first letter of the sentence is capitalised; the rest of the sentence is lower case. As the name implies, this is the usual caps style we use to prepare written sentences. Typically, only people’s names, titles, company names or product names are capitalised. This explanation has been written in sentence case.

Small Medium Enterprise (SME)

Small to medium-sized companies which typically employ less than 200 people group-wide. SMEs can operate in any business sector. They are typically more agile than larger organisations but have less capital to support their growth or development. Staff within SMEs typically have to cover a wider range of business roles, as opposed to larger organisations which would have people or teams assigned to very specific roles.


Unwanted emails from people you don’t know. Formerly, they were from people in Lagos offering you free money; now they seem to all be about Delhi-based SEOs.


A single point of contact appointed to act as the media reference person for the management of this particular crisis. Note that it may be different from the person normally designated to handle media communication on a day-to-day basis, depending on the individual’s specific product knowledge, complaint-handling ability or visibility/reputation in the local media.


Turning negative facts or news into a positive (or at least defensible) response, often achieved by purposely deflecting the course of conversation or deliberately altering the point of focus.

Star power (media magnetism)

The value a person, event or object has in terms of attracting media attention to it or its activities. Our factory open day event may not be very interesting, but if the US Ambassador will be there for photo opportunities, then so will the media. It’s that simple.


A relationship in which both members simultaneously need or benefit from the partnership with the other member (who is likewise co-dependent).


In terms of media, the reprinting of content in different territories by affiliates (or different business divisions) of a publishing house.

Unique selling points (USP)

The stand-out things that make your product or service special, different, important, superior or novel in the marketplace.