Reporter-speak: Words and phrases PR pros should know

The nomenclature of a newsroom shouldn’t be a mystery. Mastering a few key terms will help you communicate with journalists, while bolstering your credibility among members of the Fourth Estate.

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A reporter had just responded to one of his client pitches and said he would do a vo/sot on the story. My AE thought he had failed the client when, in fact, the opposite was true. A vo/sot is a good thing, and he realized as much after I explained to him what it meant.

That got me to thinking that this could be a problem for many PR professionals. I had the good fortune of spending more than 15 years in a newsroom as an anchor, but let’s face it, not everyone spends four years of college and a good portion of their life learning about newsroom jargon.

Have no fear—I’ll decode some frequently used terms from newsrooms and what they mean:

VO (Voice Over): A reporter might say, “We’ll spray your event and get a VO.” That’s not a disease; it’s a good thing. That means they will send a camera crew to your event, usually for 5-10 minutes, and get some video of the event or story you have pitched. If you are watching the news, an anchor will read the story and they will run video over the story. VOs last usually between 15 and 40 seconds, sometimes followed by a graphic, but there is no interview attached. A VO is also used for sports highlights, as well.

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