The Public Relations Glossary

We provide a comprehensive glossary of standard PR terms and trending PR buzzwords.

The Basics

Public Relations  •  Press Release  •  Brand Messaging  •  Brand Positioning  •  Thought Leadership  •  Brand Ambassador  •  Customer Loyalty  •  White Paper  •  Case Study  •  Audience Engagement  •  Boilerplate  •  Earned Media  •  Embargo

The Expert

deinfluencing  •  decel  •  shill  •  Bully pulpit  •  Encomium  •  Pundit  •  Gauntlet  •  disingenuous  •  LinkedIn Lunatics  •  Blurb  •  Bellwether  •  mesmerize  •  splenetic

Public Relations

Public Relations, or "PR" for short, encompasses all activities designed to increase awareness and generate a favorable opinion of a company, brand, product, or individual.

A PR consultant or publicist uses a variety of PR tools to reach, connect with and persuade an audience. The most popular tools are press releases, press events, press trips, brand ambassadors, sponsorships, giveaways, and partnerships. Media and influencer relationships are vital cornerstones of PR as they allow for increased reach through a third party's audience.

Press Release

A press release is an information document and the standard way to introduce your story or brand to journalists. The text follows a general form, from most essential to nice-to-have information. A headline stating your news angle should be followed by a summary. Further paragraphs provide in-depth information from most to least important downwards, including founder quotes. A boilerplate finalizes the press release.

Press releases are for distribution to your target media outlets. The press release is part of a press kit, which also includes images for use by journalists.

Brand Messaging

Brand messaging is the foundation for consistency in your communications, ultimately leading to your brand positioning. Your PR professional will work with you to define the brand messages based on your brand's values, mission, vision, and competitive differentiation.

These key messages are separate from a catchy claim or slogan but are the essential benefits that set you apart from other startups. The brand messages are designed to be repeated across all channels, whether on the website, in marketing copy, or in interviews.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is the strategic task of profoundly understanding your industry, competitors, and trends to see where you can occupy a niche based on your brand's benefits to customers. The goal is to be perceived by consumers as favorable, different, and credible in a category that is not yet fully occupied.

A PR professional will develop communications based on this positioning strategy, reinforcing your brand's differentiating qualities in the media and creating an emotional connection with prospects and customers across all communications channels.

Thought Leadership

Entrepreneurs benefit from thought leadership in their areas of expertise. A thought leader steps forward under their name to become recognized as a go-to resource in their field and raise awareness for their business by being mentioned as a source in the media. Thought leaders regularly use social media such as LinkedIn to comment on industry news.

PR professionals can help you build an audience by publishing articles and providing expert commentary with bylines in special interest media or pitching you as a speaker at industry events.

Brand Ambassador

Brand ambassadorship involves a paid engagement with an individual who embodies your brand's values. Lifestyle brands, in particular, benefit from brand ambassador engagements, where they agree to a certain level of activity to create reach within the brand ambassador's audience.

Ambassadors can create word-of-mouth marketing, which is known to be the most effective way to generate business. Activities include endorsing your brand on their social channels, being a testimonial for PR materials, and being present at brand events.

Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty focuses on the consumer's decision to use a particular company or purchase a particular product/service repeatedly rather than using other companies or products. As a result, it is widely regarded as a key determinant of a company's profitability.

Retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones. PR focuses on community management along the customer journey as the most cost-effective way to drive customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.

White Paper

A white paper is an in-depth report on a specific topic used as a growth tool by B2B companies/startups. It is based on the publishing company's expertise, research, and data.

Whereas marketers use it for inbound strategies, often requiring registration via an email address on a landing page with consent to be contacted to download the white paper with its valuable information, PR professionals partner with special interest media to publish the white paper and reach their readers.

Case Study

A go-to marketing and PR tool for B2B startups, a case study describes a specific use case of their company's product with a problem-solution approach. Each case study references a past customer or project, either by name (permission required) or by describing the customer, e.g., "Fortune 500 company in the financial industry". Case studies contain hard facts, including numbers of results.

PR professionals publish case studies on relevant platforms and distribute them to analysts and special interest media for publication.

Audience Engagement

Audience Engagement describes the activity of trying to engage with a brand's community. It is a form of public relations that invites consumers to participate in, share, and influence the messages behind your brand.

Publicists and creatives build campaigns around trending topics that are interactive and easy for consumers to share. Audience engagement must be understood as an ongoing conversation shaped daily by audiences and popular culture alike.


Companies include a boilerplate at the bottom of their press releases. A boilerplate is a template that introduces the essential facts about your company or startup, usually in 2 small paragraphs.

A boilerplate provides journalists with selected facts and figures, such as the founding date, founders' names, overall mission or vision, office location, number of employees, awards, accomplishments, and partnerships.

Earned Media

Earned media, also called publicity, is a term used to describe press placements that were secured through press release outreach and pitching by a PR professional to the media. It's any coverage about you or your business you didn't pay for or created yourself.

This type of exposure is much more valuable than paid media (including sponsored articles and ads) since it provides credibility from a journalist and their media outlet to endorse you. Earned media is considered the main goal to achieve in PR.


A press release can be marked "under embargo" until the release date. Embargoed news is shared with selected journalists and media outlets prior to a specified release date. It is a PR tactic used to provide media contacts with priority and exclusive access to information and interviews in advance of a national or global press release.


"Deinfluencing" is emerging as an outgrowth of the online influencer culture. The deinfluencer advises followers what not to buy and rejects overhyped trends and materialism. They often lead with the question, "Is it worth it?"


"Decel" is short for “decelerationist”, meaning someone who wants to slow down technological progress. If you're referred to as a decel, it's an insult most likely coming from someone who counts themselves to the cult-like e/acc group who despise a commitment to responsible AI development.


To shill for something is used with a distinct note of disapproval when someone benefits financially from talking about or describing someone or something in a favorable way.

// Influencers who had shilled for Bored Ape quickly switched their content when its NFTs value crashed.

Bully pulpit

Bully pulpit refers to public figures using their platform to address important issues.

// She uses her national fame as a bully pulpit for human rights advocacy.


Encomium stems from the Greek word enkōmion, meaning "celebration," and is a noun referring to glowing praise.

// The New York Times published a moving encomium to a gifted actress who left the stage much too soon.


A pundit is someone who is asked to comment in a public setting, such as television or radio, as a recognized expert on a particular subject.

// Aaron Swartz shared his views as a pundit on open access and knowledge sharing.


Derived from medieval combat, to throw down the gauntlet is to issue an open challenge, while to pick up the gauntlet is to accept one.

// When Microsoft built a product to compete with Slack, Slack threw down the gauntlet by publishing an open letter with advice on how to build a good Slack copy.


Disingenuous is an adjective used to describe public attempts at advocacy when in fact there is a lack of sincerity.

// Given Nestlé's well-known inhumane business tactics, the company's attempts to publicize its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities are disingenuous.

LinkedIn Lunatics

Coined by the Reddit community, a LinkedIn Lunatic is someone who posts nonsense just to appear on your feed, adds lots of hashtags, a selfie, and - more often than not - ends the post with the question "Agree?".

// As Instagram has become saturated for thirst trapping, wannabe thought leaders start their LinkedIn Lunacy career.


A blurb is a short publicity notice, e.g. published as a praise on the cover of a book to praise the content.

// “I call Naval ‘the Angel Philosopher’ and the Almanack shows why. Packed with unforgettable wisdom and penetrating insights, your mental gears will be working overtime.” — Shane Parrish about the book Almanack of Naval Ravikant


Sheep can be leaders: In a flock, one sheep must lead the way. Shepherds hang a bell around the neck of the one sheep who takes the initiative. They designate it to lead the flock. The chosen one was called the bellwether. Today, the term refers to a trendsetter.

// Bellwether of fashion Leandra Medine Cohen publishes a newsletter about how to get dressed.


Try to remember a moment that left you mesmerized as a child - - it may be the source of a great business idea as it can captivate others.

// As a kid, Ruth Handler was mesmerized by a doll that looked like an adult woman. Handler grew up to become the founder of Barbie.


Splenetic is a term for expressions of intense annoyance and anger.

// In the interview, he gave vent to his splenetic opinions, which caused a crisis in the investor relations department.