Ad campaign

a series of related ads meant to work in tandem.


a message or group of messages designed with three intentions: to raise awareness in the population about brands, products and services; to encourage consumers to make purchases; and to inspire people to advocate for their favorite brands.

Appointment viewing

watching a show as it airs live at the same time every week or every day. This refers largely to a time before DVRs or VCRs when you had to catch a show live in order to see it. Appointment viewing is largely a thing of the past; however, the popularity of major shows and the frequency of live events are bringing back appointment viewing in limited ways. For example, people will view live sporting events as they happen, and people will try to watch new Game of Thrones episodes as soon as they air.


consuming several hours of video content in a single viewing or in a very limited time frame.

appears in Ch. 1 and Ch. 3

computers programmed to create false social media accounts, websites and other digital properties.


a term used to label a specific product or a limited family of products.

Brand advocate

someone who is so supportive of a product or service that they publicly encourage others to buy it.

appears in Ch. 2

in the context of the praxis of digital culture, it means to “do it yourself,” or to make a creative work on any media platform of your choosing using available tools and content. From the French and related to another French word, “collage.”

Citizen journalist
appears in Ch. 2

a person who is not a paid professional but who delivers news to audiences nonetheless.

Collaborative television

a media phenomenon in which content producers work with the audience to produce, alter or enhance content, including to decide the outcomes of televised competitions.

Collective memory

the shared cultural memory of a group of people.

Common culture

the knowledge, beliefs and practices of a massive group of people at a certain time and place.


an exchange of meaning between people using symbols, which can include spoken, written or signed words as well as other nonverbal forms such as shared images and sounds.

Communication structure

a combination of information and communication technologies (ICTs), guidelines for using those technologies, and professional workers dedicated to managing information and messages.


a business entity that produces several types of product.

Computer-mediated communication

messages conveyed using computers.

Consumer Journey

see “Purchase funnel”

Content marketing

a common practice where brands produce their own content, or hire someone else to produce it, and then market that information as an alternative to advertising.


the process by which various types or formats of media (audio, video, text, animation and so forth) and the industries they are tied to merge on global computer and mobile network platforms.

Corporate narrative

the story of how the company came to exist and how it represents certain values and ideals — at least, this is how such stories are framed from a marketing point of view. Many corporate narratives are based only partly in fact.

Cultivation theory

a mass communication theory, which some argue is more of a hypothesis. It states that media effects build up over time and that through TV, video games and online media, the United States (and perhaps other cultures) is becoming a culture centered on violence that has devalued sex and succumbed to hyper-consumerism. This is a contested theory. There is evidence of cultivation, but its mechanisms and its importance in the context of other social influences such as family, friends, churches and other institutional influences besides the mass media are not well developed from a theoretical standpoint.

Cultural norms

shared beliefs about the way things ought to be.

appears in Ch. 1 and Ch. 2

the knowledge, beliefs and practices of a group of people.


the breakdown of mass media audiences. As the amount of information being produced and the number of channels and platforms on which news and other content can be disseminated grows exponentially, massive ready-made audiences are in decline.

Digital culture

the knowledge, beliefs and practices of people interacting on digital networks that may recreate tangible-world cultures or create new strains of cultural thought and practice native to digital networks.

Double delusion

this delusion is at the core of the third-person effect theory, wherein we think other people are probably affected more by advertising and other mass media content than they are, and we think we are influenced less than we are.



Earned media

the amount of free air time on TV or space in major newspapers and magazines that is earned by getting other mass media channels to tell your product’s stories without having to pay for ad space.

Echo chamber

a space in a communication platform, or a whole platform, where like-minded people congregate to speak only or mostly to one another.


voluntarily or involuntarily paying attention to a message and its underlying symbols.

Entry point

a position in an industry that an individual can use to gain the experience needed to move up the career ladder.

Episodic media

a type of storytelling often used in radio and television in which shows usually feature a different story with each episode.

Filter bubbles
appears in Ch. 1

a space or a set of habits using mass media and social media preferences where the user hears or sees almost exclusively the voices and information that they want to hear.

Folk culture

the cultural products borne out of everyday life with practical uses or purposes.

appears in Ch. 1, Ch. 2 Gate Keeper, Ch.3 Gate Keeper, Ch. 7, Ch. 8, and Ch.9

as the concept relates to the study of mass communication, a gatekeeper is someone, professional or not, who decides what information to share with mass audiences and what information to leave out.


when someone takes a message already published by professionals or amateurs and shares it for others to see.

Group culture

the phenomenon formerly referred to as a “subculture.” It is the knowledge, beliefs and practices of a subset of people considered to be part of a larger culture. Group culture is distinct in some ways from the shared, broader common culture. Group culture might center on religious beliefs and practices, ethnic norms and interests, or food, music and other forms of material production.

High culture

arguably the best cultural material a society has to offer. Economic class often comes into play in defining what is “high culture” and what is not.

Inbound marketing

inviting customers into social media spaces or to view messages on other platforms so that the potential customer can experience your brand-related content in your territory, rather than going out and demanding their attention with more traditional forms of advertising.


(as used here) refers not only to an individual’s ability to act as their own publisher online but also to a social condition in which individuals are free from government control.


people who promote products on their social media streams.

Information economy

an economic system where manufacturing and services still exist, but they are dependent upon information and communication technologies for strategic planning capabilities, transaction management, moving and storage of currency and the ability to automate tasks.

Intermedia agenda setting

related to the broader theory of agenda setting, it is the idea that many journalists, particularly in broadcast journalism, rely on other news media to set the agenda for them, which they then pass along to their audiences. In digitally networked communications, it has been noted that newspapers and their digital counterparts still generate much of the original reporting that then is spread through broadcast journalism and social media the world over.

Interpersonal communication

the exchange of meaning between two or more people on a personal, often one-on-one, level. Interpersonal communication can be verbal or nonverbal. Most often, it happens in face-to-face settings.

Intertextual media

mediated messages that combine various types of text into one. Texts are broadly defined here to include video, audio, animated, graphic and other forms of textual information.

Legacy media

media platforms that existed before the development of massive digital networks.

Limited capacity model

a theory that states that our cognitive abilities are limited, so we are unable to process all of the information that we see, hear and read.

Limited effects

a paradigm, which is to say a collection of mass communication theories based on thousands of empirical studies. All of these studies found in one way or another that the direct effects of messages or message campaigns on mass society are limited. This is not to say that the mass media are inconsequential, only that to directly influence the behaviour of massive numbers of people via message campaigns is difficult in part because there are so many other social and cultural factors influencing behaviour.


a branch of the field of economics and also a practice which includes developing advertising strategies and other research efforts meant to guide advertising strategies as part of larger sales and production strategies. Put simply, it is the entire process of strategizing to sell a product.

Marketing’s four P’s

produce, price, place and promotion.

Mass communication

involves sharing meaning through symbolic messages to a broad audience from one source to many receivers.

Mass-mediated messages

usually professionally selected and produced messages on topics meant for widespread dissemination.

Massively individuated

content produced for mass audiences but having the appearance of personalized messages.

Media literacy appears in Ch. 1, Ch. 2, and Ch. 3

a term describing media consumers’ understanding of how mass media work. Being media literate means knowing where different types of information can be found, who owns various mass media channels and products, how messages are produced and how they are framed to suit various interests.

Media studies

the broad category of academic inquiry analyzing and critiquing the mass media, its products, possible effects of messages and campaigns, and media history.

Metropolitan daily newspapers

newspapers that cover large cities or a few geographically connected smaller cities.


in reference to art and other forms of cultural production, a purposeful break from the past.

News frame

the way a story is presented including which sources and facts are selected as well as the tone the story or message takes.

News norm

see “Norm”


a parlor or theater housing kinetoscopes, which were early machines used for viewing motion pictures. So named because kinetoscopes usually cost a nickel to play. Nickel + odeon, which itself is a classical term (Greek and Roman) for a building dedicated to singing or poetry productions.

Norm appears in Ch. 1 and Ch. 2

a behavioural standard. Professional norms are the written and unwritten rules guiding behaviour decided on, and often contested by, people in a given field.

Objectivity appears Ch. 1 and Ch. 7

in news, this is a professional norm or normative practice that refers to efforts to keep individual biases out of the published news and to consider the information presented by sources with an open mind during the information gathering process. No one is completely objective, and no news outlet is, either; however, the guiding principle is to attempt to take personal and institutional biases out of news reporting.

Organizational communication

the symbolic exchange of messages carrying specific meaning for members belonging to formal organizations. In practical terms, it is the internal communication that helps governments, businesses, schools and hospitals to run.


in the context of the praxis of digital culture, a term indicating that everyone with access to the internet has the ability to contribute to new media products and platforms. Contributions could come in the form of text, photos, videos, audio clips, graphics or memes.

Penny press

the first mass medium. They were tabloid-style newspapers written for and read by working-class audiences. The small-sized pages were cheaper to produce and relatively easy to distribute.

Personal culture

the knowledge, beliefs and practices held most dear to an individual.

Platform appears in Ch.1, Ch.2, Ch.3, Ch.7, Ch.8, and Ch.10

a digital space where creation may happen. For example, Facebook is a platform where people can communicate with friends, share content and see ads purchased on behalf of Russian intelligence officials. Facebook produces almost none of its own content. Instead, it brings people together to share the content they find and create. Reddit is a platform where news and image links are shared and voted on. It is a sort of platform popularity contest. In digital gaming, a digital platform is a space where people can create their own worlds or their own gaming experiences (Minecraft is a good example of this kind of digital space).

Pop culture

the vast array of cultural products that appeal to the masses.


in the context of a discussion of digital culture refers to the way one’s country appears to matter less as an influence on behaviour and values online than it does in the tangible world, perhaps because we can be free of our national identities when engaging in digital networks with people from around the globe. Note that the rise of online nationalism calls into question the validity of the argument that digital culture is post-nationalistic.

Purchase funnel

a conceptual model depicting different stages at which audiences can be reached with advertising messages. It progresses from the very broad Awareness phase through garnering Interest and creating the Desire for a product before finishing with Action, or closing the deal.


old media products, concepts and practices presented in new ways on new platforms as new information and communication technologies (ICTs) make it possible.

Retrieved appears in Ch.7 and Ch.9

according to the Limited Capacity Processing Model, the term used when ideas communicated to us are recalled when we wish to remember them.

Rule of seven

a rule of thumb, or what social scientists call a heuristic, in the advertising field that suggests that people need to see an advertisement seven times before they act on it.

S-M-C-R model of communication

a basic communication model indicating that all messages begin with a Sender, are conceived of as individual Messages, travel along a Channel and reach a Receiver. Models built on S-M-C-R also account for noise, which can confuse message transmission, and it must be noted in a networked communication environment it is quite easy for receivers to become senders instantaneously by clicking “share” or performing similar actions.


the acceptance of messages in the mass media as being true or, at least, worth remembering.

Second screen experience

consuming media on one platform (usually television) while interacting with the show, the show’s producers or other fans on a second media platform such as social media or a voting website, in the case of contest shows such as American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

Serialized media

a way of organizing stories in which an ongoing narrative with several threads is told in a series of episodes. Each episode, more or less, picks up where the last one left off. This form dates back to the serial publication of novels in the 19th century, but it has also been used in radio, television and podcasting.

Slow journalism

a movement in the field of journalism that aims to protect accuracy and care in journalism by prioritizing fact-finding above covering breaking news with speed and perhaps recklessness.

Social capital

the potential to get help, not limited to financial assistance, from the people in your social networks, in the tangible world and online, when needed.

Social responsibility

in the study of journalism ethics, social responsibility is a specific concept referring to the need for media organizations to be responsible for the possible repercussions of the news they produce.


a very large group of people held together over time through formalized relationships. Relationships can be economic, legal, political, or some combination of these. Society may be viewed as a hierarchy where individuals come together in small groups which then join or form bonds to create larger, more formalized groups called institutions. A large enough collection of institutions can be said to form a society.


when a company pays to support an event or a mass media production in exchange for having its brand promoted alongside the activity or content.

Stored appears in Ch.2 and Ch.7

according to the Limited Capacity Processing Model, the term used when ideas communicated to us are recorded in our memories.

Superbug media products

podcasts, web series, independent news websites and other digital media products that survive and thrive in highly competitive environments with limited initial access to traditional media resources.

Symbolic interactionism

a communication theory stating that people assign symbolic meaning to phenomena around them. It suggests our behaviour is guided and influenced by our perceptions of reality interpreted through symbols.

Transparency appears in Ch.2, Ch.3and Ch.5

as a normative news practice, it refers to showing audiences how the news is made. In some cases, it may even mean inviting audience members to join in the process of reporting professional news stories. Journalists who prioritize transparency over objectivity will strive to demonstrate to audiences how they know what they know rather than merely presenting two or three extreme points of view on a news topic and calling the news fair and balanced.


voiced information edited to accompany video such that the audio overrides the sound of the original video. Voice-overs can complement the video but do not necessarily reference it directly. As an editing technique, using voice-over is common in entertainment and video news production.


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The Evolving World of Public Relations Copyright © 2021 by NSCC and Rosemary Martinelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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