10 PR + Publicity Terms Every Actor Should Know
[As originally featured on backstage.com]
There are many terms used in the world of publicity and PR. Having an understanding of them can be of great benefit. Although there are many, here are a few of the essentials.
PR: Stands for “public relations” and has to do with the state of your relationship with the public. You could also say it’s your reputation and how others view you, so it’s subjective to a large degree. Part of a publicist’s job is to maintain a favorable public image for you (or help create or repair one, as the case may be).
Publicity: Fundamentally, this is the notice or attention given someone by the media. It’s as simple as when you as an actor are interviewed by a reporter for a news program, are on the radio talking about an upcoming project, or when a writer for a magazine runs an article about you. Part of a publicist’s job is to acquire or control this notice from the media.
Media: The word “media” itself is the plural form of “medium”—meaning a means or way of doing something. In this case, it refers to the way, method, or channel through which information is conveyed. It’s a general term that refers not only to the various means of mass communication— whether broadcasting, publishing, or the Internet—but also the reporters, editors, and producers who work at or with the print publications, TV or radio programs, and online magazines. It broadly refers to all of the above collectively.
Outlet: This is the publication itself or broadcast station that transmits the show, news, or feature story. Where “media” broadly refers to these distribution channels and their staff, a “media outlet” refers to the specific newspaper, magazine, radio, or television station.
[As originally featured on backstage.com]
Pitch: Depending on the nature of your specific publicity campaign, pitching is something a publicist would typically be doing a lot of for you. Essentially, it’s the act of a publicist reaching out to someone in the media about you, the client, with the purpose of gaining interest and ultimately favorable media coverage on you or your project.
Coverage: This is the article, mention, interview, or news story. The press or media outlet has “covered” you or your story; you’ve been publicized. This is the goal of pitching: to gain favorable coverage. It’s a general term to convey the fact that you’ve been mentioned by an outlet. You’ve received some media coverage or press.
Press: This one is a broad term and is essentially interchangeable with “media,” “outlet,” and “coverage.” More specifically, it refers to the outlets and those working in the media viewed collectively, as in, “The press will be interested in this story about…” And it also refers to media coverage, as in “He’s gotten a lot of press on his new movie.”
Angle: This is the specific approach taken when you pitch. It’s how the publicist positions the pitch with regard to the editor, writer, producer, segment booker, or whoever the client is being pitched to. The angle can and should be modified to suit a specific editor or outlet. There are unlimited ways to adjust an angle, and it’s the publicist’s job to present you and your story to an editor in an honest way that’s organically a fit for them, and in doing so gain interest. This is not a robotic endeavor of just pitching any old thing; it’s a thoughtful and creative endeavor based on your publicist really knowing you, their client, and also really knowing the press and the field of publicity in general. How you pitch, in my experience, is often more important than what you’re pitching. This is a much bigger subject and probably deserves its own article devoted to it.
Editorial: This is the article in a newspaper or magazine that’s written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on an issue. It’s the sections of a newspaper or magazine that feature stories and news information. Editorial refers to anything that relates to the parts of a publication, whether print or online, that contain news and information, as opposed to advertising.
Media training: This is something you typically do with your publicist, who essentially helps prepare you to speak with the press. They work with you before an interview or during a campaign, helping to shape your message and delivery so that you feel prepared, come off confident and relaxed, and convey the message you want conveyed in an interview. It can be very strategic in nature.