Being an intern at a top New York PR agency has exposed me to many things I hadn’t experienced before. I’ve been able to use my content skills for press releases and bylined article drafts. I’ve sat in on calls with clients themselves, affording a glimpse into another company. But as a budding PR professional, what has really caught my attention are the common words and phrases I’ve heard during my time here. Whether it’s through emails or Slack messages or even listening in on client meetings, there are plenty of terms thrown around. Some I knew going in, but others are brand new. Here is a list of things you might hear at a PR internship.
A major goal of good PR is helping your client get more exposure in the media, and that means talking to reporters. I was a journalism major in college and had dreams of reporting before I shifted to PR, so I know all about wanting to get that big scoop. Imagine having your name next to a story no one else was able to get! Well, that’s what an exclusive is — sort of. It refers to a situation where the PR team offers first-crack at a story to one reporter and one reporter only. Usually it’s for a big client announcement. Once we secure the right person to cover the story, we don’t pitch it to anyone else until it runs as an exclusive. But we will quickly offer it more widely as soon as we fulfill our end of the negotiation.
When I sit in on client meetings, oftentimes I hear about upcoming press releases that will be “under embargo.” Usually when I hear the word “embargo” I think of ships or trade restrictions. But in PR and journalism, it means an article or a press release that won’t be published until a certain time. Unlike exclusives, we send releases under embargo to multiple reporters at the same time.
Another thing I hear a lot on client calls in regards to pitching is how our team will “go wide”. That means we send it out to all relevant reporters and producers. If there’s something we want everyone to know about, then we’ll let them all know.
An abstract is a brief summary of something, and in my experience here I’ve heard it used to mean a “speaking abstract.” When we want to submit a client executive as a keynote or panel speaker for an event, we prepare an abstract to summarize what they want to say. It’s interesting because most people think of PR as writing press releases or pitching to reporters, but things like event submissions show that it’s a lot more than that. There’s a real art to crafting a compelling abstract, and I’ve learned a lot about that from our conference and awards team here.
Vertical is short for vertical market, which is “a market encompassing a group of companies and customers that are all interconnected around a specific niche.” In PR, we use it to describe the industries that serve and the media sectors we reach on behalf of client organizations. So for example, if we want to pitch a story about cybersecurity, we’ll look for people in the technology, IT security, or financial verticals.
From my time in journalism, I know the term “byline” as the part of the article where it shows who wrote it. But in PR it usually refers to a trade article bylined by a client executive. So far I’ve helped research or draft bylines on topics like cybersecurity insurance and retail. It has given great insight into areas I wouldn’t have otherwise delved into.
Not necessarily a PR-specific term, but you still hear it a lot in any position, whether it’s an internship or a full-time spot. Usually it’s in the context of when something is due. EOD means “end of day,” and of course EOW means “end of week.” At the end of the day (see what I did there?), it’s just simple shorthand.
“Close the loop”
When you want to be in the know on something, you want to be “in the loop,” and if you don’t know what’s going on, you’re “out of the loop.” What “closing the loop” means is putting an end to a project and letting everyone involved know. For example, if we secure coverage for a client and a piece runs, then we might close the loop by telling everyone we were in contact with. Or, if I’m putting together a list of coverage and I can’t find any more news, then we might close the loop on that.
This is a very common term when it comes to projects, and it’s basically about returning to a topic after a bit. For example, while asking for any additional projects to work on, I’ve had people tell me “I’m busy, so I’ll circle back with you later.” Many people dislike this term, but I think it’s harmless.
“Get a bite” (or a nibble)
These last two are terms that aren’t necessarily PR-exclusive, but I think they’re fun ways to describe offering story ideas and commentary to media. Because when you think about it, pitching is a bit like fishing. You put out your story like you’re casting a line and hope that you get a bite. Thankfully reporters are more likely to “bite” than fish, but it’s still a clever metaphor that I like hearing and using.
“Find a home”
And speaking of animal-related terms I’ve heard, this one might be the most adorable. When I heard someone say we were “finding a home” for a bylined article, my mind immediately went to dogs and animal shelters, where people find homes for pets who need one. As a dog lover and proud owner of a rescue (say hi to Toby!), a term like that resonates with me. Bylines and other stories, like pets, need homes too! And it’s up to journalists to “adopt” them. Get Sarah McLachlan to film a PSA!
Overall I’ve learned a lot of terms and lingo as an intern, and I look forward to using them myself as I continue to grow and take on more responsibilities, whether it’s at Crenshaw or wherever else my PR career takes me.