Why PR Pros Must Learn AP Style
Bailey Stitzer, account coordinator
Remember in college when writing a paper, you had to follow APA or MLA style? The nuances of grammar, punctuation, and format quickly became ingrained in your memory. For PR professionals, we quickly learn AP Style will become second nature for each and everything we write. Sometimes, I catch myself spelling out numbers zero through nine in my personal Facebook posts.
But, if you aren’t a journalist or PR professional, you may be unfamiliar with AP style or why it is important. Becoming more knowledgeable about AP style could make the difference between the media running your story or tossing it. Here are some suggestions for why.
“AP style” refers to the guidelines from The Associated Press Stylebook, which is considered the standard reference guide for all news writing. It defines the rules of news writing, including punctuation, grammar and how to properly use abbreviations, titles and other various terms. In addition, AP style is used to obey the basic rules for constructing a press release. The Associated Press Stylebook is updated annually in order to keep up with current trends.
Following AP Style provides consistency not only throughout your writing, but how your news is reported. Abiding by these rules ensure a journalist the ease of transferring your press release into a news article. Your company’s credibility and attracting the media’s attention are reasons why writing in AP style makes a difference.
“It doesn’t matter how well you get your message out there if that message isn’t written properly” (Reed, 2016).Start fresh in 2017 with a new focus on AP style and consider putting the Associated Press Style Book right beside your computer on your desk.
“6 AP style rules for press releases:
- Set your objective in the introduction. Set your goal at the beginning of the release. If a journalist reads the first line or two of your release and doesn’t find the objective, he’ll toss your release and move on to the next one.
- Cover the five Ws in the body copy. Once you have a reporter’s attention, you need to deliver the pay off. Follow the five Ws to make this happen (who, what, when, where, why). In other words, make sure you give the editor all the information she needs to write a full story. Because of their tight deadlines, editors don’t have time to dig deep.
- Check your spacing. Here’s where it gets a little more technical. While it may seem picky, you should only use one space after punctuation—none before. This may seem different to you, as some people like to add two spaces after punctuation.
- Drop that extra comma. When you list items in a series, you typically have the option to use a comma before that last “and.” For example: I ate bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate. I ate bananas, peanut butter and chocolate.
- Use full names and titles only when you introduce someone. When you first introduce someone, like a CEO, in your release, give his or her full name and title. But don’t keep doing so, as it will prove superfluous and make your writing sound clunky. After the introduction, simply use the last name.
- Get numbers right. AP Style rules for numbers are a bit tricky. Spell out numbers one through nine. After that, use numerals like “10.” Also use numbers for dates, and abbreviate months with more than five letters.”