Cutting The Jargon In Ad Tech PR

I recall sitting in the weekly meeting at my first marketing internship. Surrounded by subject-matter experts in the space known as ad tech, I tried to hide my computer screen as I subtly googled almost every other word spoken. It was as if I were in a room of people conversing in a different language. And in a way, I was. I felt embarrassed for not knowing the terms – pressured to unscramble strung-together letters and find their meaning.

That day, as I frantically attempted to keep up, I began to question the complexity of the industry I worked in. Now, as someone who does PR for a range of ad tech companies, I still think about it. If our goal is to create a collaborative environment whereby brands, agencies, publishers, and data partners can ultimately reach consumers with positive ad experiences, why have we made it so complicated? 

Ad tech is known for its long list of acronyms, jargon, and synonymous words. They’re ubiquitous in ad tech PR as well. This not only makes it hard for new talent to get up to speed, but it turns ordinary things like reporter conversations and strategic discussions into cryptic and complicated exchanges.

For ad tech PR professionals who understand these terms, it’s easy to get wrapped up in their extravagance. But keep in mind that the brains coining these terms are ordinary people – most likely sitting at their desks or kitchen tables in athleisure outfits and baseball hats (myself included). So, let’s strip away the facade and break some of them down:


Or Google Topics. The ad tech people who get it, get it. If you don’t, here’s the scoop: in 2019, Google announced FLoC – the Federated Learning of Cohorts, a system standard to solve for the demise of third-party cookies, those bits of code that carry data about our web browsing activities and interests. To safeguard consumer privacy, Google Chrome proposed the use of algorithms to create “cohorts” – groups of consumers with similar interests. This would allow for targeting based on interests, rather than a user’s personal identifying data. Although it seems as though FLoC is flying with a broken wing, it will surely remain in the conversation, with the recent announcement of Google Topics just last week.


PII stands for personally identifiable information and can mean name, email, phone number, or more. It’s valuable currency for advertisers when it comes to targeting. However, due to privacy regulations, PII has become increasingly hard to obtain unless a consumer gives permission.


This stands for the General Data Protection Regulation, rolled out in 2018 to monitor and govern the way in which consumer data is collected, processed, and stored. Over the years, GDPR has incentivized additional regulations, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the newly emerged Surveillance Advertising Act. As the industry navigates continued consumer demand for transparency and privacy, these regulations are what makes data like PII so much trickier to secure and leverage (to provide impactful advertising experiences).


Is Connected TV (CTV) ATV? Yes. Is ATV CTV? No. Get the picture? Basically, Advanced TV (ATV) is one of those umbrella terms that tend to cause confusion. A helpful analogy is that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square. ATV encapsulates all things non-traditional TV: CTV, OTT, VOD/SVOD, and addressable TV –  don’t get me started on those. Okay fine, here: 

  • CTV: a TV streaming content via the internet

  • OTT: the streaming service that consumers use to watch CTV

  • VOD/SVOD: This one is pretty easy. Users can watch things they missed on demand; they can also watch on demand through a subscription service

  • Addressable TV: any TV that connects to the internet to provide VOD

The above is just a sample of the many flashcards we in ad tech must hold in our minds. While these terms have a powerful and useful meaning in our industry, our job as PR professionals is to break complex ideas into digestible and compelling stories – and in ad tech PR, specifically, our role is to explain how technology can benefit the advertising experience. To do so, we must be able to communicate, market, sell, and teach it in simple terms. If we can’t do that, do any of us really know what we’re talking about?

10 Phrases To Delete From Your PR Vocabulary

PR agency teams, especially those in tech PR, LOVE to speak in jargon. We have shorthand for nearly everything and sometimes forget that people outside our organization or industry might not know what we’re talking about. While those in PR are more than happy to explain what our unique vocabulary means, there are certain phrases that should be eliminated. Some don’t hold meaning anymore, while others are confusing or trite. Some were made up somewhere along the line to make us sound more interesting. Let’s take a look at a few phrases we should start phasing out of our vocabulary.


PR pros are accustomed to hype. We want to exceed expectations by getting the best media coverage possible. When sharing coverage, we often say ‘this is exciting’ when in reality the outcome was our goal. Instead of positioning every last piece of work as exciting, we’d be better off explaining why it’s credible, effective, or persuasive. The same holds true for the quotes we may write in press announcements. Instead of the CEO saying he’s ‘excited’ about the new deal or product, it’s better to describe what positive changes it will bring. When it comes to hyperbole, less can be more – credible, that is. 


Similarly, in press releases, PR teams often highlight an offering as ‘unique’,‘one of a kind’, or ‘groundbreaking.’ If it is in a press release, of course we may feel pressure to position it as something the industry hasn’t seen before to gain more media attention. Yes, the news may be offering something unique to the company, but don’t position it as a reinvention of the wheel unless it is truly going to change the industry. 


For those of us working in tech PR, ‘disruptive’ is used frequently, which has made it an empty word. it has basically lost its meaning. Companies (and their PR teams) like to say their offering will disrupt and change the industry but in reality it may be a flashy term used to say ‘hey look at this!’ Avoid saying this if you can, as it holds very little meaning in the tech media world.

Bringing this to the top of your inbox 

PR pros juggle multiple tasks and will keep a running list of things to check in on. More than once have we started an email with ‘bringing this to the top of your inbox.’ Yet at times this can come off as impatient or pushy if only a few hours or a day have elapsed since it was sent. Worst of all, it increases the email clutter. It’s better to state a deadline attached to the request, highlight  the most important stats, and follow-up with any new or additional information.  

Think outside the box 

In PR we are taught to look at problems from different angles and think of every possible scenario. We are also looking for ‘breakthrough’ ideas for telling stories. Yet in my view the phrase is redundant. We work in an industry where everything is not black and white and we often must see all angles to a problem or story. We should always be thinking ‘outside the box’ to consider all perspectives on a given situation. 

We’re proud to announce…

How many press releases have you seen that start with these words? It seems a bit obvious. Of course you’re proud! To replace this phrase, tell us why the news is mediaworthy and what it will change.  

Let’s discuss this offline

We live online now. From virtual meetings to Zoom happy hours, the majority of the work is digital. But how many times have you said this in a meeting? A few years ago, maybe it meant something different but now it seems outdated. Simply say you will discuss this at a later date/time because the discussion will most likely be online.  


Across the corporate world, this is probably the most overused phrase. What does it mean today? It’s usually used in a sentence like ‘how can we leverage that data?’ Leverage is so jargony at this point, swap it out for ‘use’, ‘capitalize on’, ‘take advantage of’, or even ‘harness’. 

New normal

I think if the last two years of work-from-home life has taught us anything, it’s that there is no such thing as normal. We are constantly adapting and shifting to change. The phrase ‘new normal’ is outdated in 2022. We have learned to take things as they come, so there’s really no ‘new normal.’ 

You are on mute

It is 2022 and the majority of us have been on Zoom daily to connect with executives, media and team members. At this point, everyone should know how to work the mute button! 


What phrases do you think should be removed from a PR’s pro vocabulary? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr

Know Your PR Jargon

It doesn’t take long in a PR agency to figure out that practitioners can speak in a language all their own. Learning “PR-speak” is necessary to facilitate communication within a team. Industry jargon can be off-putting, but it does add a sense of camaraderie for those “in the know.” Additionally, as any industry evolves, so does the vocabulary. Check out some of these commonly used PR terms and acronyms to keep from getting lost in translation.

The Acronyms. PR people are definitely fond of acronyms, so much so that a conversation between two people in the biz can sound more like a secret code than a business plan.

B2B and B2C, as most people already know, refer to campaigns that target other businesses, or those that reach consumers, respectively.

OTR stands for Off the Record — integral to media relations by (ostensibly) allowing you to control the message when speaking to media.

ROO stands for Return on Objective and represents how your end result compares to your program’s original goals, where ROI, Return on Investment, refers to the value of a program.

SOV stands for Share of Voice, a barometer of visibility often used by brands or companies in competitive industries. SOV can be part of an agency’s KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, as the industry has moved beyond such traditional (but outdated) metrics as CPM (Cost Per Thousand) or AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent.) Phew.

Pitching. Pitching is essential to successful public relations, and, although it’s derived from baseball, it can mean a few things. A new business pitch is where an agency sells ideas to a potential new client, while a media pitch, of course, is persuading a journalist or blogger that they should feature your client’s news. You should also be learning how to pitch yourself to potential employers, i.e. your elevator pitch.

Blast. The act of sending an e-mail to numerous people at one time (and, unfortunately, often misused.)

Crossing the wire. This sounds dangerous, but it means a press release distributed over a newswire service, which helps run news in searchable digital form. It can be a real asset in spreading a story quickly. The term “crossing the wire” comes from a time when news services communicated via electrical telegraphy.

Readers. A “reader” is a 30-to-60-second piece distributed to broadcast contacts that contains the most essential information for their listeners and viewers.

Boilerplate. “Boilerplate” is actually a printing term that also refers to standard language in legal contracts, but in PR it means a brief summary of a company’s business or history found at the end of a press release. It was also named as one of the most annoying PR terms by InsidePR, but we find it pretty harmless.

Got any other examples of jargon you’ve heard recently? Do you remember the first term that made you scratch your head? Tell us in the comments!

Words To Avoid For PR Pros And Princess Bride Fans

Although I’m a grammar and word usage nerd, I rarely blog about it, mainly because others do it so well, and for PR pros, the frequency of reminders can be tedious. Yes, certain incorrect, trite, or pompous words are irresistible complaint fodder: my personal dreads are “hone in” for “home in” or anything with “utilize” for the much better “use.” Also PR jargon like “buzz” and “optics.”

But in honor of the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, here’s a list of words more commonly misused in professional circles or in the office. Some are merely old, some incorrect, while others simply should never have seen the light of day.

Any nouns used as verbs. And vice versa. “Onboarding, “concretize,” and “webify” are three offenders. I swore I’d never say “productize,” but after 20 years in tech PR, it rolls off my tongue. Then there’s “showroom,” as in, “I showroomed the new tablet then ordered it from Amazon.” Most nouns should never be “verbed.”

Flexitarian. The word refers to dietary habits, but it’s also a badge of identity, like “metrosexual.” According to Merriam-Webster’s Kory Stamper, it’s from the “you are what you eat” school. In my book, it’s confusing and pretentious.

Funemployed. No, it’s not really. Maybe pre-recession, but since 2008 this hasn’t been a good word.

Spinnish. I’ve heard this used to describe the language used by PR pros and politicians. Funny, maybe, but too backhanded.

Refudiate. This word was famously invented by Sarah Palin and it should have ended with her retirement from politics.

Democratize. Another “verbification” that actually makes sense to me, though it may be through sheer overuse. And that’s the problem; this word is just so tired, having been used to describe everything from financial investments to art. Let’s vote it out for a while.

Agreeance. Are we all in “agreement” that this is an invented word, and not a good one?

Smirting. This is meant to refer to flirting while smoking, since anti-smoking regs have driven so many office workers outdoors. NPR’s “A Way With Words” confirms my suspicion that it’s something a PR person invented and tried to popularize, but it never really caught fire.

Ridonkulous. I’m secretly fond of this one, but it’s seen better days. When a word is attached to discount sales, it means it’s not as cool as you think.

Sexting. Last year “sexting” was named the Most Annoying New Tech Word by Computeractive Magazine (which I think should consider a name change itself.) But, alas, it’s here to stay. And to be honest, “intexticated” – from the same list – is actually worse.

Digerati. Does anyone really say this? Certainly not them.