PR Pro Lingo: 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know!

PR Pro Lingo: 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know!

PR Pro Lingo: 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know!

Tamaryn Tobian
Tamaryn Tobian
25 days ago

In a previous Stage 32 blog (which you can find HERE), I discussed why consulting with a publicist is a good idea before heading into production on your creative project. Working with a publicity team can sometimes feel daunting—especially if you’re not on the same page and don’t speak the same lingo. To complicate matters more, it can be especially intimidating if you’re constrained by budget and taking on the DIY approach. So, whether you’ve worked with a PR team before or you’re going it alone, I want to help you understand these important terms because they will not only help you build a solid PR strategy and be on the same page with both your PR team and the media, but they will also help cut down onboarding time when you start working with a PR team. In the fast-paced media landscape, any time you save is money saved.

PR Pro Lingo 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know

The Basics: Essential Documents and Tools

EPK (Electronic Press Kit)

In theory, most filmmakers know what this is. However, in my years of experience, only two or three filmmaking teams have ever given my team a perfectly press-ready press kit during our onboarding process. A top-notch, press-ready press kit is not just a document, it's a powerful tool that can make a journalist’s eyes light up—because it makes their jobs significantly easier and, therefore, more likely to cover your work.

What it is: a digital press kit the media uses to write and deliver their stories. It provides all the supplemental materials, including high-resolution images, web-ready photos, video clips (scenes and trailers), and documents such as press notes, press releases, social media packages, etc. It’s your all-in-one media bundle.

What it is not: a pitch deck or deck of any sort. Now that nearly everything digital is cloud-based, it should not be a single file you can attach to an email.

Press Release

A press release is a formal announcement, a written statement following a specific format and tone. Its purpose is to inform media outlets about significant milestones in your project's lifecycle, such as the initial cast announcement, a distribution deal, or a premiere date. Understanding when and how to use a press release is crucial for effective media engagement.

Current and past press releases may be included in an EPK to provide past history or context in addition to the latest announcement.

Media Pitch

A media pitch is a concise, engaging summary of your film or project designed to attract media attention and coverage. Typically, it’s delivered as a short, thoughtful email with a call to action.

One-Sheet

A one-sheet is, ideally, a single-page document summarizing the key information about a film (or person if an actor). It’s often used as a promotional tool to give a snapshot or highlights. It’s typically included within your EPK but can be distributed independently.

Media Alert / Tip Sheet

It is typically one page (maybe two) and designed to give the media a quick heads-up about an upcoming event such as a premiere, press conference, or screening. It includes all the pertinent details—what, who, where, when, etc., and none of the extra fluff. Like a press release, it follows a very specific format. Think of it as a save-the-date.

Face Sheet

A document providing headshots and key information (such as names and titles) about individuals associated with a film or event. It helps media professionals identify and recognize important figures. It is most often used during carpet events, photo calls, press conferences, and junkets. These help photographers and media personnel provide key metadata when submitting files to newsrooms and wire services.

Name Slate

Like a Face Sheet, it’s a visual tool listing the name of a single key individual. Unlike a face sheet, it typically does not have a headshot and does not list multiple people. It is used the same way as one would use a face sheet during promotional events so media personnel can identify everyone and know who’s who.

Curated Media List

A curated media list is not just a list of names, it's a strategic tool. It's a compiled list of journalists, reporters, and media outlets that are relevant to your film's target audience and who you or your PR team plans to initiate contact with. Unlike bulk media lists, it’s been culled of irrelevant contacts. Ideally, everyone on the list has been vetted as someone who is most likely interested in your film, your cast, or your story in some meaningful way. This targeted approach can significantly increase the effectiveness of your media engagement.

Credentialed Media List

A credentialed media list is a list of journalists, reporters, and media outlets who have been given access to an event. The event’s PR staff compiles this list and shares it with partnering PR agencies and PR contacts. For example, it may include a list of media contacts who are all attending a major festival.

Bulk Media List / Generic Media List

A bulk media list contains journalists, reporters, and media outlets generated by a media database or purchased from a big data company. Often, it’s created by using generic and broad-reaching keywords such as “celebrity,” “entertainment,” “independent film critic,” or “film reporter.” These are wildly inaccurate lists and don’t account for situations where one would want to remove horror-specific writers if they’re promoting romantic comedies. They often do not include social media influencers, social media channels, or smaller outlets such as blogs.

PR Pro Lingo 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know

Getting the Word Out to the Media

Media Pitching / Media Relations

Media relations is the act of distributing your media pitches and other press materials to your media lists. It also includes following up, scheduling, and various other activities related to executing a PR strategy.

Newswire Release

A service that distributes press releases to a wide range of media outlets that have opted-in to receive their wires. This often results in media publishing a press release as if copied and pasted. Large corporations traded on the stock exchange use Newswire releases to satisfy FTC requirements. Smaller companies and smaller, project-based initiatives—such as independent productions may use wire releases to help accumulate “as featured in logos.” This strategy is not considered “earned” but rather paid. Press releases released on wire services do not increase SEO results, as they are considered “no-follow” links.

Photowire

A photo wire is similar to a Newswire service, but it distributes photographs to media outlets. This ensures the wide and rapid dissemination of images from events. The key difference for a wire service is that the photographs published to the wire services have strict copyright rules and regulations, and specific wire-approved photographers have to be scheduled in advance. The most popular photo wires are Getty Images and Shutterstock, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have wire services they share with their affiliate outlets and subscribers.

PR Pro Lingo 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know

Events and In-Person Engagement

Pre-Screening / P&I Screening / Critic Screening

You’ve heard of premiere screenings, but Press and Industry Screenings (sometimes called critic screenings) are—an advance showing of a film before its official release. These are typically invite-only (unless they’re part of a film festival’s programming) and often include critics, influencers, and media. They may also include interested distributors, sales agents, and buyers. These screenings are usually under an EMBARGO and, in some cases, a Non-disclosure agreement (see below for the Embargo definition).

Press Junket

A press event is when journalists are invited to interview the cast and crew, usually in a single location over a few days. It’s like speed dating with the media. These can also be held digitally.

Press Tour

Typically reserved for films with a larger publicity budget, this is a promotional tour involving the film’s stars, often traveling to various cities to promote the film through interviews and appearances. If lined up appropriately, a film festival run can be part of the press tour. It’s a media blitz on the move.

Photocall / Carpet Walk

Most people think of a photocall or carpet walk when they think of a premiere or carpet event. However, carpet events can be set up purely as photocalls (talent on one side, photographers on another), or they can include interviews and other marketing and promotional elements. I don’t like the term “red carpet.” More and more events are using colors and themes other than red. I choose to use the terms “Carpet,” “Carpet Event,” or “Carpet Walk” instead.

PR Pro Lingo 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know

Strategies: Choosing to Make Smart Moves

Spray and Pray

Arguably, spraying and praying is the worst possible strategy, as it often leads to annoyed media contacts. It consists of distributing information widely to as many media outlets as possible, hoping for some coverage but often lacking a targeted or strategic approach.

(Extra Term) Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

(You probably know this one, but I included it on this list to put it in context with the next one.)NDAs are legally binding contracts establishing a confidential relationship between two or more parties. The parties agree that sensitive information shared between them will never be disclosed to others or will be disclosed under certain conditions or at a specific time in the future. In the context of filmmaking and PR, NDAs are used to protect proprietary information, such as scripts, marketing strategies, casting details, and other sensitive project information, ensuring that it remains confidential.

Embargo / Under an Embargo / Embargoed

An embargo is a request to the media that the information or news provided be published on a specific date and time. Some media and smaller blogs will not honor an embargo. Working under an embargo is often in the form of trust. Unlike an NDA, an Embargo is not legally binding unless accompanied by an NDA or some agreed-to terms. Best practices are to have a simple, smooth embargo agreement process that includes some form of a limited NDA or opt-in agreement coupled with data tracking elements to protect the work whenever necessary so that the media is confirmed to agree to the embargo before receiving certain press materials.

Festivals often ask films they’ve selected early not to announce anything publicly until the festival has released its full lineup. This is the same as working under an embargo.

Offering an Exclusive / Publishing an Exclusive

An exclusive is when you or your team first offer a story or piece of news to a single media outlet, aiming for prominent coverage and building strong media relationships. This requires time, nuance, and planning, and like an embargo, it is built on trust.

It’s a strategy that can take weeks—sometimes much longer—to execute because it means you’re offering a first right of refusal to a story. That means neither you nor the PR team—or anyone from your team—can share the news with other outlets or anywhere publicly, like say, your Instagram account until the exclusive expires.

This means whatever news you’re sharing—whether it's an announcement, selected photos, a new trailer, or the bigger names in your cast—must, in fact, never have been publicly available before. If someone from your team leaks the information that’s been given as an exclusive it can sour relationships with media not only for you and your project but for your PR team as well. Examples may include sharing “never before seen,” “first look at,” “breaking news” and “insider sourced” type stories.

PRO TIP: If you’re angling to announce your cast as an exclusive, keep that info off IMDb.

PR Pro Lingo 25 Terms Filmmakers and Actors Must Know

Measuring Success: Tracking and Valuing Your Impact

Coverage

The amount and quality of media attention printed, published, broadcast, and shared.

Coverage Report

A coverage report is a document that seeks to track, summarize, and analyze the media coverage received. It’s one piece of assessing the effectiveness of PR campaigns.

UVM (Unique Visitor Metric)

An important metric for understanding Coverage Reports is the number of distinct individuals visiting a website or digital content over a period of time. This helps indicate the reach of online PR efforts.

AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency)

This is another important metric for understanding Coverage Reports. This metric estimates the value of earned media coverage by comparing it to the cost equivalent of advertising spending. While some PR pros debate its accuracy, AVE is a solid starting point for understanding your PR campaign’s ROI.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment Analysis is part of a coverage report and involves evaluating and analyzing the tone and emotional undertones of media coverage or social media mentions. In filmmaking, this may include understanding if most reviews are positive or negative or somewhere in between. This can help to understand how a film is landing with critics and/or the public and can guide adjustments in PR strategy. For example, after a premiere, the PR team conducted sentiment analysis on social media mentions to gauge the audience’s reaction and plan adjustments in promotional efforts.

What's Next?

Now that you’ve added these 25 PR terms to your vocabulary, you’ll be more ready to embark on media engagement and help your film get more attention. Understanding these concepts can significantly affect how effectively you promote your project. And remember, while DIY PR can get you far, partnering with and learning from a seasoned PR professional can help take your film to the next level.

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About the Author

Tamaryn Tobian

Tamaryn Tobian

PR / Public Relations Professional, Marketing Professional

A passionate storyteller and skilled strategist, Tamaryn Tobian is the Agency Owner of Spectacle Creative Media, a boutique public relations firm driven to elevate and educate independent storytellers, individuals, and content creatives. She and her team have executed numerous festival and premiere...

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