Secondary research: Also known as desk research, this involves a review of published sources as distinct from original (or primary) research.

Segmentation: Ways of categorising groups of people, eg by demographics, psychographics, geography.

Semiotics: The study of signs, language and meaning. This teaches us that there is more to communicating than literal meanings. Meanings can be ambiguous and some readers and viewers take different meanings from the same source.

SEO: Search Engine Optimisation. The process of improving the visibility of a site by improving where it appears in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

SERP: Search Engine Results Page. The page you are sent to when you type a query into a search engine. The search engine will rank the results, so you usually want to appear on the first page.

SMART: Acronym referring to campaign objectives, which should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.

Social marketing: The use of marketing techniques to promote social change and good causes (not to be confused with social media marketing, the use of social media for marketing purposes).

Soundbites: Sentences of phrases that summarise what the speaker is trying to communicate in a short and memorable fashion.

Spin: A pejorative term to describe the manipulative practices of ‘spin doctors’, especially in the political sphere. Has come to be associated with public relations.

Stakeholders: Groups affected by or capable of affecting the achievement of organisational objectives (Freeman 1998). Often used interchangeable with publics.

Systems theory: Theory developed by biologists to describe interactions within dynamic ecosystems. Adapted by public relations scholars to explain how public relations helps organisations adapt and adjust to change pressures. A more recent critique of systems theory draws on chaos theory to argue that seeking to achieve equilibrium is no longer an adequate way to avoid extinction.

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