In PR we love talking, we love pitching stories, emailing, chatting, we like breakfasts, fancy dinners and champagne launches. So it's inevitable that along the way we've ended up with a words and phrases that are confusing to everyone else. So in the interest of clarity, this section will seek to demystify the PR world, explaining the jargon and decoding the fluff. At the same time, should you find yourself in a meeting, feel free to throw in the odd lengthly and slightly bonkers word. I call it Business Bull Shit Bingo. If you're ever at a conference or in a big meeting, tick off how many of the key phrases you hear. I've included some generic marketing and business ones in here for good measure. I'll update this every week with a new one - make sure you tweet me @NakedPRGirl if you have a suggestion.
ROI - said; 'what's the R - Oh - IIII on this?'
ROI is translated as Return On Investment. Any numbers man or business brain will question you on the ROI of your campaign or venture. At the end of the day, we're all here to make money so it's pretty pointless spending, for example, £5k on a giant plastic flamingo for a press day unless you have a good reason. So when you're working on your budgets or pitching for extra money for a project, just remember to justify everything. In this instance you could argue that the giant plastic flamingo would double up as a table or even a chair, or argue that it pulls together all the themes from the collection launch and that it creates the perfect setting for all those amazing bloggers, press and celebrities to take pictures against. Ten flamingo selfies x influential bloggers/celebs = 10 pieces of press. Et voila some mathematics for your investment. You can use ROI to calculate spend on any campaign vs results - you're looking for coverage in print, online and social to create the biggest impact for your clients. Oh and as a side note, always aim for x 10 return on any investment. So just try and find a cheaper flamingo yah?
Make Money Online said - 'sooooooo how do we start making loads of money online.'
I confess, sometimes I'm tempted to shoot straight back with 'spend loads of money on it.' Yes here's the truth (and imagine I'm saying this loudly), setting up a website does not automatically guarantee you'll be an instant millionaire and sunning yourself in the Caribbean this time next year. I know, I'm sorry, we like to make it sound that the only real saviour to your problems is to have a digital presence, but alas this is not the case. First of all a website should be right for your business. It's possible that your website may just be information based and community based, it does not have to be transactional. If you do want one, it takes a while to design it and build it and then you need to market it. You're going into a giant Google jungle and you're just a little tiny plant near some gigantic trees and animals that might eat you. Also before all that (sorry I should have said) you need a business plan. This is to be added in to your main business plan so it all stays together but it needs to be focused. Websites are expensive. You'll feel like you're pouring money into them and what does it give you in return?!? Work out your plan, your objectives, your marketing plan, if it's transactional, what's it's purpose, what's it adding? Add the financials, talk to the experts and be realistic. Add in shipping costs, return costs, photography, work out your margins. And if you've used this phrase, go on an ecommerce course because the more you know the better. Be tech savvy or hire tech savvy. Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
Quick win - said "can we just get a few quick wins yah?"
If I had a pound for every time this phrase had been thrown round the table at 9am on a Monday morning meeting I would be a millionaire. This, along with the phrase 'can we get this on Kate Middleton,' need to go immediately into Room 101 with the reason that they are completely devoid of sense. Maybe for your boss, or the guy from accounts or the buying director, there are quick wins in their world. But with the best of intentions, quick wins in PR and Marketing are usually short, sharp and dirty with no impact on anything, especially the sales figures. That's not to say that a reactionary campaign is not worthwhile. If you work with hand soaps and suddenly there's a worldwide shortage or Jennifer Aniston admits they're what are keeping her looking young, then Christ sake do something about it! But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about when everyone is perusing the numbers on a Monday and tutting and looking at the product and going hmmm hmmm before settling on PR and Marketing and going 'can we do some quick wins then?' Sending out panicked messages is not normally a good plan. It's confusing for the press and the customer. If you have a good long term strategy you'll find less need to send out nonsense in a desperate attempt to massage the sales figures. So either take that approach or be like 'ooh totally I am a magician. Pass the wand Harry, it's time for potions.' In other words agree 'abbbsolutellyyy' and figure out a plan later. If anyone dares to give you advice on aforementioned 'quick win' just insist they 'leave it with you.' Bull shit bingo all the way!
Wardrobe Malfunction - said "oh fuck, Madonna just STACKED it, hold the front page it's #CapeGate"
A act of God like Madonna's tightly tied Armani Cape sending her backwards down a flight of stairs (by a poor backing dancer) or Janet Jackson's jewel decorated exposed boob (by Justin Timberlake - extra points) is a game changer. The reason being that with these kind of events, the general running order of the evening have been given to press already via embargoed press releases on the artists/winners/attendees. Sooo that's the reason why write-ups from the events seem to happen the second they've happened...and why they're generally quite dry in comparison. Said journalist or blogger will write 'Taylor Swift wowed the crowd singing Blank Space in a sexy (insert red dress/black hot pants here). All ready for an image and couple of sentences on the outfit. Soooo if an act of CapeGate happens journalists have to hop to it! Back to their computers, stories re-written, headlines changed, pictures added. Gifs, pics and articles posted online, links added, hashtags live, social media a-go-go! As observed by @caitlinmoran on Twitter: "As always at times like this, my thoughts go out to all the hacks who’d already filed their Brits report before Madonna fell over." And she had a point as journalist @SimonNRicketts: said 'Brits coverage sorted. We know the winners. Unless anything surprising happens, we're good.' A newsroom conversation I had 20 minutes ago." For Janet, this was obvs pre-planned but the boob shock still resonated around the world. Not the case for Madonna who genuinely couldn't get her bloody cape unfastened fast enough. But for Madge...she was surely not likely to dominate all the front pages BEFORE #capegate so look at that - in this instance no such thing as bad publicity...although that cape whipping dancer might have had a headache the morning after 😉 Kudos to National Rail for swift social media team reaction who tweeted @nationalrailenq: "To the dancer who pulled #Madonna from the stage...check your train times here... #BRITAwards2015 #lasttrain." Don't say we don't have a sense of humour in a crisis! And well done to Madonna for carrying on regardless!
Valentine's Day - said 'how can we work Valentine's Day in? Have we got anything red or pink?'
Valentine's Day actually has an exciting backstory. I urge you to take the love train over to The Telegraph and look at their excellent journey from BC (including stories of whipping to increase fertility) to 1913 AD when Hallmark mass produced their first Valentine's Day and as they say "you might call this date the beginning of the end for St Valentine's Day as a genuinely romantic event, and the start of its reinvention of a savagely imposed regime of sugar-coated tweeness designed to chisel spare cash out of lovers and would-be lovers worldwide." Nowadays it's been hijacked as a convenient marketing theme from January leading up to 14th February. Press releases will go out in October/November on heart shaped products, gifts, outfits, lingerie (great time of year for lingerie), novelty items, things which feature a bit of red and are tenuously linked - eg 'look at this shovel - perfect for Valentine's Day with a red handle'...don't laugh, you know it's happened! Then nearing the day itself, time to bribe/remind journalists and bloggers you exist with heart shaped biscuits, red roses, heart printed scarf, shovel with red handle? Yah. By the time the day arrives you should be wearing red lingerie/underwear, under your red outfit while being weighed down by hundreds of red roses, bottle of pink champagne and box of heart shaped champagne truffles while dining out in a fancy restaurant. Romance is not dead kids, It's available at a price, in a store near you, wrapped for your beloved in a red bow.
New Year - said 'shall we do New Year New You?'
January is the proverbial desert of the PR world. It's the time of thin issues, lazy content and frankly crap press releases. Why? Firstly, everyone has spent most of November and December sozzled around a fake Christmas tree wearing a pair of jingling antlers or a Santa hat and thus January is rather rushed through rather than cared for. Secondly everyone is literally absent in January. Away/coming back/hungover/depressed and just counting down the days until payday. No one is really up for doing all that much, nor can they afford it. But there is one thing that everyone does want to do in January and that is reinvention. Out with the old, in with the new, time to be a whole new person - be more dog! So for that reason, January is stacked to the rafters with stories on how to be thinner, fitter by following a dry January/juice diet whilst standing on a treadmill with EVERYONE ELSE ON EARTH WHO HAVE JUST DISCOVERED THE GYM with a de cluttered home whilst you search for a new job/go freelance/plan to chuck it all in and go travelling. Can't wait for February so we can return to normal.
Gifting - said - 'is there a budget for gifting?'
If PR is the dark arts, gifting is the secret wand that you keep up hidden your sleeve and deploy when Voldemort has you cornered. Gifting is where PR's gift product to journalists so that they can see how fantastic it is and write about it. It's a menace in real life because as Mastercard's PR agency found out, 1) we can't guarantee that gifting results in coverage and 2) we can't talk about the gifting as a mechanism to get coverage as it against the code of conduct. Where Mastercard's people infamously overstepped the line was treating the whole thing like advertising - which is a straight forward exchange of money for an advert or promoted piece. What MasterCard did was tell a journalist what to do in return for his free Brits tickets. It's probably not the first time this has happened but the first time anyone has ever been so public about it. So very much like Fight Club - the first rule of gifting is WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT GIFTING. Welcome to the murky world of subtle PR negotiations.
Christmas - said 'oh god I'm so sick of Christmas. It started in JULY'
What?!? July you say? Yes my friends, Christmas for PR's and journalists kicks off in sunny July. Why? Because journalists are working on Christmas issues then and also because the season of goodwill has become a huge money spinner with the 'Christmas Creep' leading to the so called 'Golden Quarter' where retailers expect to take the most profit between October and December. So for PR, well that kicks off in July with Christmas press days and pretty much doesn't stop until Christmas. Which means by the time you see those Christmas adverts you're most likely sick of seeing snow globes, Santa hats and Christmas jumpers. For marketers and brands, it starts even earlier, in fact it's practically a year round event! The pressure to deliver at Christmas is intense! Do you have the cutest characters? Celebrity ambassadors? Singing sensation on your soundtrack? The campaigns have to have more than razzle dazzle, they also have to be emotive to attach people to your brand. So that they tweet 'The John Lewis penguin advert made me cry AGAIN this year' like a badge of honour. So in marketing your Christmas is almost year round - whether you're assessing a previous campaign, planning the next one, filming or shooting in May or pitching for budget for a Christmas window...it's just pretty amazing that come December you've not turned into Scrooge!
Margins - said (by Lord Sugar) 'you forgot about the BLOODY margins'
In The Apprentice last week the task was essentially about margins as the candidates had to make and sell candles for the most profit. Margins are crucial in any industry - oh yes - even in marketing and PR you'll find yourself throwing the words like 'press discount' 'gifting' 'cost price' 'mark ups' so having a business brain will always be worthwhile. So just remember that the cost price is the amount you pay for a product straight from the manufacturer. The recommended retail price is a mark up which takes into account all your overheads (premises, staff, lighting, till systems etc) and the money that is left over from all of that is your profit. If you're a multi brand retailer you might deal with wholesale prices - this is a sales agency who is a go between between brands and retailers. The game is to sell as much full price as possible. Once you hit sale, the margins slide. With me? Good because as all those clever people on The Apprentice show just how easy it is to forget your margins. And forget them at your peril as you'll end up in the board room and one of you will get fired!
Clickbait - said 'that story was total CLICKBAIT'
According to the Evening Standard, Renee Zellwegger's recent face transformation was the biggest click bait of the year so far. I love the phrase click bait, it has naughty connotations mixed with a dash of old fashion mechanics. To understand click bait, you have to understand Tom and Jerry. This is the proverbial moment Tom is luring Jerry out of his mouse hole with a piece of cheese. When you eat the cheese, the trap snaps. Gotcha! For newspapers, magazines, brands and bloggers, we all use social media for two reasons - engagement is one - having a nice little chat with our customers and growing our gang, but the second is more sinister. We want to get you from the comfort of your Facebook page (where you were happily browsing your cousins wedding pics) onto our platforms, because traffic means advertising equals money. Soooo when you see an old picture of Renee captioned 'you won't recognise THIS actress anymore'... You click through and ta da...you are a victim of click bait. You've been lured by the subtle art of the teaser, or not quite giving you the whole story. Now, lucky for Jerry, he was too clever to ever fall for the cheese on the trap. Try and see if you can avoid falling for those not so subtle tricks. Think before you click.
Marketing - said 'I'm IN Marrrrketing
Marketing is essentially telling your customer you exist and enticing them to buy from you. We use a variety of different disciplines to attract you like bees to a honey pot - advertising, PR, POS, social media, creative beautiful campaigns, stunts (you know when you have an inexplicably weird line up of people along the Thames for something you've never heard of), books, endorsements, collaborations, celebrity gifting, loyalty cards, promotions, customer events with 20% off AND a goody bag! If you're exhausted reading this list, spare a thought for the marketer as your work is never done. In a bar in Bank the other day a man came up to me and said 'if you're not in marketing you should be.' By which he meant I'd positioned myself right next to the staircase so men could admire my legs as they went up or down. See, can't switch it off! But marketing works best when you have all your marketing levers working together. So if I was doing it properly I'd have sent out a press release 'NakedPRGirl near Bank!', advertised my impending arrival on the side of a bus a la Carrie Bradshaw, commenced a social media campaign #nakedprgirlxbank, held a photo call, brought a sign 'NakedPRGirl here - wanna selfie?' and added a competition element 'win an evening with nakedprgirl.' It's a complex game all aimed at creating a fan base, to sell more stuff. Geddit?
Reach out - said 'yes, what a GREAT idea! I'll REACH OUT to alllll my contacts'
Here's a little story dear readers. Earlier this week I was accidentally eavesdropping on a man. He was speaking on the phone to (I'm guessing) his boss. He was a little agitated and clearly in trouble. He was pacing up and down, hiding in doorways while he spoke, I was getting worried and then he said this; 'yes, yes, exactly, totally, yes I'll reach out to everyone this afternoon when I'm back at my computer. Ok, ok, yep speak soon.' Ah the universal conversation closer. 'Reaching out' is a way of saying 'oh f*$k, I haven't done THAT yet. Hang on, I'll do it RIGHT now. Please don't shout. Ok? Phew.' Yes it is fluffy, yes it feels kind of 'borrowed from the American version of The Office' but by Jove it works. Oh and reach out in real life just means 'speak to.' But who needs simple 'speak to' when you can REACH OUT. Everyone feels infinitely more comfortable with you are reaching out, imagining some kind of social ninja action is going on. So sing it 'Reach Outttttttttt.'
Affiliates - said 'do you have an aff-ili-ate programme?'
Please do not fall asleep during this explanation, it's worthwhile I promise. Affiliate programmes operate to link up retailers with bloggers to encourage bloggers to link to the retailers and to give bloggers an incentive by monetising their links. If you don't already know what this is, this is the blogging equivalent to discovering Father Christmas doesn't really exist. It has three stages:
1) The retailer and the blogger must both be signed up to an affiliate programme like Linkshare or Affiliate Window
2) If the blogger is accepted onto an affiliate programme with Net-a-Porter for example, they can add a link which tracks the referrals
3) So when the blogger is writing about THE best evening dresses EVER at net-a-porter or that her credit card is melting just can't take one more minute of the sale! She's actually enticing you to shop
3) If you click through from the affiliate link from the blogger and then go onto buy from the affiliate website then it's 10% commission for the blogger. TA DA!
Some bloggers do this, some don't, some tell you they're doing it, some don't. Makes you think differently about all those crafty links doesn't it?
Absolutely - said whilst nodding head 'Aaaaabsolutteeellllyyy'
My dad introduced me to this game. It's called, Count how many people say 'absolutely' on TV. Dermot O'Leary, Tess Daly, sports presenters, newsreaders, politicians. It's an epidemic! They're ill, it's all there is! Absolutely sits in the 'comforting words to say when you need to buy some time' category. When you're in a meeting and need to say something, anything, but have no idea what's going on, just add some extra hot air; 'oh absoluteeely, it's completely fundamental.' It's significantly overused but so far no one has really noticed. So let's join forces and #saynotoabsolutely.
SEO - said 'S-E-Ohhh'
SEO means Search Engine Optimisation. With me? Ecommerce folk so like to throw this one around and rarely can believe that you might have no clue what it means? What? It's like, not knowing what breathing is!?! SEO refers to all the back end stuff that you don't really see if you're a traditional marketer or PR specialist, but it's worth knowing all the same. This is the bit that Google likes, so no matter how many fancy images you have on your website, and creative copy you have going on, you also need to be optimised. In your back end you'll pick a key word, and you'll add a meta description which is crucial to being found online. Doesn't sound like rocket science? You need to optimise every single piece of copy and all the images on your website, so managing your SEO can be a full time job, but it's benefits cannot be overstated. At the very least you should be asking your clients,' is your website optimised for search engines?' Job done.
The next level - said 'implementing this strategy will take us to the next level'
Oh god the next level. The mysterious next level. We all want to be on the next level! It's the omnipresent, hypothetical, not quite in reality, next level. Full of promise, hope, achievement....it's a shame it usually doesn't really exist. This phrase is usually greeted with a lot of nodding of heads and agreeing with the phrase 'abbbbsolutellly I agree' thrown in for good measure. If you want to be that annoying person at the meeting, then repeat after me; 'so how are you measuring the next level? Where's your benchmark for that? Have you thought about the ROI?' What? Measurability? Are you CRAZY? The only time anyone actually reaches the next level is when they are looking back at the project. 'The results demonstrate we took the brand awareness to the next level.' Snoozefest. Don't insult our intelligence.
Darling! - said 'darrrrrrlinng how are you?'
It is a truth universally acknowledged that of you're in PR, marketing or are a journalist, you meet a lot of people. Actually this also goes for stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists. A lot of the time you will remember everyone's names but there is the occasional time when you CANNOT remember their name for the life of you?!? So to save everyone from countless embarrassing episodes, we've invented a one-size fits all strategy. Darling is most commonly used for greeting or goodbyes 'darling it has been SO long! How's work?' And 'darling, I really must go, drop me an email with some dates' mwah mwah. It doesn't mean you don't love them it's just it's so bloody hard to keep up, sometimes you might forget your own name. Try to use 'darling' sparingly though, you don't want to sound like you are genuinely confused about everything.
ROAS - said; 'Return on Advertising Spend'
Wow, could there be more of a ridiculous sounding acronym. Are we sure we even need this one? Not content with ROI, the PPC (pay per click) people get their very own phrase. ROAS is key to your PPC strategy - obviously. In real life, you're just taking the money it cost you to run your advert and looking at the results. In a world of clicks, keywords (long-tail, negative etc), location, enhancing, rankings, PAGE 1, above the fold for Christ's sake, you can be forgiven for switching off immediately...however, all you really need to know that for the money you are spending, you are getting the results you want. For you mathematicians out there, take the ad spend and divide it by your revenue. The better the result, the better the campaign. Don't be worried if your ROAS is bad, just try to increase the ROAS by changing your keywords strategy, rah rah rah. Simples!
Press Cuttings or Clippings (said have you SEEN the press cuttings?)
In the olden days, these used to be actual physical pieces of paper cut out from newspapers and magazines. My first intern experience at an agency involved cutting out the clipping from the cutting agency and mounting them with spray mount (obvs) onto a second piece of paper with the PR agency's logo on it, before photo copying it THREE times (two client copies, two agency copies) to make up the PR report that month. Thank The Lord times have changed but we still need to communicate our value week in week out so now we have electronic versions (mainly) which will be all added together for each client, pulled into a PR report and circulated round. Ta da. Genius. Life can be further simplified by a media monitoring service....who can keep an eye on the coverage for you.
PR - said; 'I'm in P-RRR'
PR by definition is all about managing the image of your brand or company to a wider audience. So everything that you see and hear about an organisation will have been carefully filtered for you by the PR team, moulding their public image to one which will appeal to you. These days it has grown increasingly woolly due to the arrival of social media, so for a few years everyone pretended this didn't exist until deciding that we kind of wanted this under a PR umbrella because in truth it does require an amount of finesse and speaking to 'the public' (who everyone is terrified of). One old boss once said to me; 'you're like the Dark Arts Claire, making everything happen but without a sound.' This makes me think of Death Eaters in Harry Potter, which probably says a lot about our own public persona. It is widely regarded that we're terrible at our own PR, with everyone thinking it's a bit like Eddie from Ab Fab and we just mince around shouting 'sweetie, darling' and quaffing Bolly all day but in truth we're a hard working bunch. We're probably more likely to be championing our brand or talking about coverage and ROI. It's also worth noting that this is the kind of marketing that you can't pay for - so think editorial, features, story and content creation rather than something like advertising.
Holistic (Or Wholistic) View - said; 'Yah you've got to consider the HOL-IS-TIC view'
This is one of my favourite phrases, which I just cannot take seriously. It comes from the same territory of 'overarching view' but sounds a little more pretentious. It is particularly useful when someone is being very defensive about their particular business area. Eg - 'This top is awful, it will never sell.' The answer - 'Let's look at the holistic view. The top is from an up and coming designer, who is just about to use Beyonce in their advertising, The brand alignment is just amaze. The social media will be, just, everywhere. If we look at everything (eg - the holistic view with everything considered), it is a total winner.' Also works with anything anything where money is concerned - eg 'So the ROI was terrible?' The answer ' Not when you consider the holistic view...' See it's quite handy really?