6 AP Style rules for press releases

AP Style isn’t just for the media. If you want reporters to cover your stories, you need to write like they do.
By Mickie Kennedy | Posted: June 14, 2013


There’s more to writing a press release than you might think.

Not only is there a format to follow (headline, summary, date, content, section about the company), but a set of standard procedures to adhere to—AP Style.

Read on to learn how to make sure your press releases follow commonly-held stylistic procedures.

What is AP Style?

The Associated Press (AP) has set various regulations for news publications to follow. While they aren’t the only rules out there, they are the most commonly used.

The Associated Press has also set standards for press releases:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

When you follow AP Style, drop that last comma. I like that last comma, but I’ve made myself stop using it in press releases.

5. 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.

6. 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.

AP Style is important for PR

Yes, it seems trivial. Who cares if you get all the little intricacies correct?

Editors care.

And since you want them to pick up your stories, you need to play by their rules. 

          [RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to digital PR industry changes.]

Do you format your press releases for AP Style?

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuelwhere a version of this article originally appeared.

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SFPRN West Coast Manager Pete Cento Seeks to Expand the Network’s Sponsorship Program in Southwest FL

South Florida Public Relations Network Fills a Niche no Longer Covered by Print Media


PRLog (Press Release) – Jun. 27, 2013 – NAPLES, Fla. — sfprn ( The South Florida Public Relations Network (SFPRN)
NAPLES, FL – June 27, 2013 – The South Florida Public Relations Network (SFPRN) is seeking to expand its sponsorship program in Southwest Florida by inviting community leaders, local tourism chambers of commerce, companies, business owners and local PR organizations to become members and sign up for the PR Daily Digest Newsletter.SFPRN is the only non-dues paying professional development association for the communications industry in Florida and survives off sponsorships and vendor support.
One of the Network’s main sponsors, Business Wire, is a hugely important sponsor and helps to fund networking opportunities and Lunch N’ Learn professional development seminars at no cost to members with local marketing, PR and communications industry experts.SFPRN is also celebrating its one-year presence in Southwest Florida as a resource for PR, marketing and communications experts in Collier and Lee Counties. The Network encourages individuals to become active members and share best practices about the communications industry, client awards, new hires and industry job opportunities in Southwest Florida.The Network continues to grow and now reaches more than 2,100 marketing, communications, PR, social media, public affairs, disaster preparedness and emergency management pros and independent PR & Marketing practitioners in Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties on both sides of the Florida Everglades.

Pete Cento, a multilingual PR, marketing and social media consultant in Naples, FL, is designated as the west coast chapter manager and co-moderator of the PR Daily Digest. The South Florida Public Relations Network attracts interest because of its unique niche in providing local marketing and public relations industry focused news.

“We encourage local PR experts to contribute news releases about their client’s and share best practices in PR, social media and marketing,” said Pete Cento, SFPRN west coast chapter manager and managing director of The Cento Group.

“The South Florida Public Relations Network is an umbrella, providing a one-stop-shop and resource of PR jobs boards, groups, resources and news for PR & Marketing pros on both sides of The Everglades,” said founder Linda Hamburger. “What used to be found in the newspaper as weekly columns is no longer available. It was important to me to preserve this type of industry round-up.”

Pete Cento stays active in the Southwest Florida community and is a member of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA), Southwest Florida Chapter, The Hispanic Institute at Hodges University and the Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Cento is also a former board member, Publicity Chair & Hispanic Market Committee for the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

For more information about the South Florida Public Relations Network, PR Daily Digest Newsletter and to become a new sponsor, visit the web site at ( and contact Pete Cento at (, Direct: 239-287-8061.

For additional information about becoming a sponsor and member of SFPRN, contact:

Pete Cento, SFPRN
 West Coast Chapter Manager

The Cento Group, Managing Director | Direct: (239) 287–8061 ( |

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Bank of America (BofA) Told to Lie

Bank of America (BofA) Told to Lie.

bill.mckibben.featured.colorBy W.T. “Bill” McKibben, Senior Counsel, The Great Lakes Group

When an entire sector of our economy -a crucial sector- is handed “Get Out of Jail Free” cards by our federal government, we should not be surprised when they run off the rails. We are talking about the monster, too-big-to-fail banks. It is more than surprising, it’s a miracle that it isn’t any worse than it is. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and its head, Eric Holder, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the USA, has decided in the case of these banks that he will not enforce the law. He has repeatedly given the monster banks a pass. His rationale is that jailing top banking officials will destabilize the banks and our economy. Shows you how precious little Holder knows about business.

We have the major banks running a muck, fixing interest rates, laundering money for drug cartels and dictators, playing fast and loose with mortgages, ripping off consumers right and left and anything else that comes to their evil little minds. The latest instance is playing out in a Federal Courtroom in Boston where former Bank of America (BofA) workers are lined up to blow the whistle on the warped sickies running this bank. A bank that owes its very existence to the nearly $50 billion we taxpayers handed them to literally keep them afloat following the economic collapse they helped trigger.

BofA.cardIn sworn statements BofA expats detail the bank’s efforts to squeeze every dime out of homeowners struggling to hang on to their homes. Bonuses to meet their foreclosure quotas, gift cards, all kinds of incentives to lie and cover up misdeeds designed to line the bank’s pockets with fees and interest before crushing those they should have been helping. And why not? If you get caught and have to pay a fine, it’s peanuts in comparison to the bucks pouring into the bank’s coffers. Just another cost of doing business.

This is not going to stop until we start charging the top executives of these banks and they face jail – that’s what it’s going to take. Attorney General Holder may be a fine lawyer but he clearly doesn’t know squat about business. Executives who allow the kind of behavior that we’ve seen at BofA, HSBC, Chase and the other big banks are lousy business people and lousy leaders. There are lots of honest people waiting in the ranks of these banks, ready and able to lead and build on a proven ethical foundation to produce happy customers. And in case you haven’t noticed, happy customers produce higher profits.

We do need to remove the temptation that allows banks to speculate with their customers’ deposits instead of investing them in our economy. We need the so-called Volker Rule. And we need to break up the monster banks. Take them out of the too-big-to-fail league. All the stuff that the big bankers little helpers’ on “K” Street managed to lobby out of the laws that protected us against bad bankers for decades. However, the first order of business should be the leveling of criminal charges against these arrogant, ignorant punks who have no place leading any business, let alone one in the financial heart of the world economy.


 About the Author: Bill McKibben’s career in communications spans several decades. A Hall of Fame Broadcaster, writer and journalist, he has also managed and owned major market radio and TV stations as well as a communications and marketing firm. Clients often refer to him as their “Corporate Conscience.” “Play Nice, Make Money”, his book on business ethics makes the case for an Ethical Business model as the most effective route to profitability. Learn more about “ethics” at Bill’s website, Email Bill:

Crisis Communications 101: What Should Paula Deen Have Done Differently?

Crisis Communications 101: What Should Paula Deen Have Done Differently?.

Editor’s Note:  David Johnson discusses the branding lessons and impact of Deen’s fall in this post and was also featured Monday on CBS This Morning.   

Posted on June 24, 2013 

David E. Johnson,CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

If ever someone is in need of crisis communications, it’s celebrity chef, Paula Deen.  Deen admitted to using the ‘N’ word in reference to African-Americans.  Usually any scandal involving race is a career killer, just ask Michael Richards, Jimmy the Greek, and others whose careers ended after comments involving race.  Deen’s attempts at dealing with the crisis have done nothing to dispel the opinion that this is a career killer, as the Food Network cancelled her show.  Her efforts have actually made the situation worse.  And more is yet to come as the deposition was recorded and at some point, the video may be released.  What is amazing is that Deen and her team were caught so unprepared.

So what should Deen have done differently?

  1. Settle the case long before it got to this stage.  This case was a ticking time bomb for Deen.  The impact of settling the case and moving on would have been minimal compared to the damage that has been done to her and her brand.

  1. If the case could not have been settled, have a crisis communications plan in place to lessen the damage that was destined to happen when the deposition was leaked to the media.  This plan would have encompassed the following:

    • A strongly worded apology to her fans and the public for the use of the derogatory words and any offense that she has caused.  A sincere request for forgiveness and asking people to judge her not just by this but the sum of her entire life including the work she has done in the minority community in Savannah.  Rather her initial statement, appeared to blame her use of the terms on her southern heritage giving the media and late night comedians fodder to keep the story alive.
    • A media offensive by her public relations team.  This offensive should have stressed that the depositions were leaked to put Deen in a bad light and force her to settle the lawsuit.  Also included in this offensive should have been statements by employee (both past and current), colleagues, and members of the African-American community that could attest to Deen’s character, lack of racism, and also call attention to this being part of an ongoing lawsuit and the leaks appear designed to force Deen to settle.
    • An exclusive interview (as was planned on the Today Show).  In this interview, Deen would answer anything that was asked of her, appear contrite and humble, and strongly without reservation denounce racism.
    • Silence.  After doing the above steps, total silence on the subject would allow the issue to die.

 Deen of course did not follow this strategy, and her actions have only made the situation worse with many in the media acting like sharks when there is blood in the water.  Now that the damage has been done, can her brand recover?  Possibly.  If so she has mere days to put a new comprehensive strategy in place that would encompass the following:

  1. A strongly worded statement acknowledging that she has failed to address the issue adequately.  Apologize for her words and explain fully in detail the context in which she used those words.  If there is anything else that might come out, address that issue and get in front of the story.  Ask for forgiveness.

  2. Have people speak up in her defense such as colleagues, employees, and members of the African-American community both in Savannah and nationally.  The claim of her PR people should be that those who know Deen, know her best and can vouch for her.

  3. An exclusive interview that Deen answers anything that is asked of her, shows real contrition and denounces all form of racism. In this interview, she needs to appear humble, apologize for her statements, denounced racism as strongly as possible.  She should also announced proceeds from some of her profits are going to a minority based charity and this episode has awakened her as never before to the issue of racism.

  4. Settle the lawsuit.  Allowing this case to continue or even go to trial means a death of a thousand cuts.

  5. Deen needs to step away and stay quiet for a period of 3 to 6 months and adopt a charity.

  6. Reintroduce herself to Americans and go back to what she does best – cooking.

While this strategy will not undo all of the damage and restore her brand to its previous luster, it will at least prevent her brand from totally collapsing and salvage something of her reputation.  Otherwise, Deen and her brand will always be tarnished with the ‘r’ word behind their name – racism.


 About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at

Client relations: Mind your professional bedside manner

By Ed James | Posted: June 21, 2013
As public relations professionals, how often do you find yourself in a situation with a client where even though you feel you’re expressing yourself with complete clarity, you can sense they just don’t get what you’re saying or where you’re coming from?You are trying to explain the diagnosis and prognosis for their publicity campaign, yet you can see their eyes cloud over. As they ask you the same questions for the second and third time, you know that what’s happening is a serious lapse in communication. Like an illness, if it remains untreated it will just get worse.

This literal misunderstanding can go on to create a wide chasm between agency and client, which can ultimately lead to dismissal or the need for you to resign the account.

Once things head off in this wayward direction, course correction becomes incredibly difficult and you may end up with almost a “sleeping with the enemy” type of animosity. Often when this arises, the immediate tendency is to blame the client for their lack of comprehension—but aren’t we supposed to be the great communicators?

Ultimately, it is up to us as PR professionals to walk the client through the process—adopting an almost beside manner—so there is no miscommunication.

Too often there’s the feeling, “It’s so easy to understand, so why doesn’t the client just get it?”

Put simply—it’s not always that easy.

The client wants results, and if you’re not conveying the process—walking them through the steps—you’ll always be left with the “yeah, but where’s my feature in The New York Times?” style questions. They are not PR pros, and they hired you to do a job, so they expect—and deserve—to understand the reasons they are paying you.

[RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.]

So, as you begin, sit with your client, figuratively hold their hand, map out the ups and downs—the potential pains and rewards—and provide a realistic forecast with a reasonable expectation for successful results. Only with this fully transparent approach can a true partnership can be forged.

Ed James is president/co-founder of Cornerstone PR. You can follow him on Twitter @edwjames

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The PR Pitch: A Skill that Matters More than Ever

The PR Pitch: A Skill that Matters More than Ever.

The PR Pitch: A Skill that Matters More than Ever

By Sarah Skerik, Vice President, Content Marketing, PR Newswire 

BeCalmPitchOnAn article Ragan’s PR Daily ran last week titled “Is the Traditional PR Pitch Dead?” flirted with the notion that it’s possible to practice PR without pitching media and bloggers. The author, Rachel Farrell, concluded (and I agree)that social media is a path to news, not a replacement for it, and that pitching thought leaders and who shape opinion is still a good idea. The art of the pitch still matters.

I’ll go a step further and say that the pitch has never been more important to PR than it is today.

The pitch is the art of describing the very core of a story, and it drives right to heart of why the story would be of interest or importance to the audience.

Just as a pitch – whether delivered via email or phone — is designed to attract the attention of a journalist, that same pitch can also be used to attract your brand’s publics.

In fact, we need to think about leaving multiple pictures into messages, in order to attract the reader keep the audiences’ attention and guide them along the path that we’ve created, all the way to the outcome we intend.

Even if pitching traditional media and connected bloggers isn’t part of the remit of the particular project, ultimately the success of the message hinges on the pitch, and here’s why:

The pitch will win attention: When appealing to online audiences, it’s crucial that you surface that essential why in the story as quickly as possible. Think about starting your press release, for example, with a pitch.

Keep pitching to hold attention: But don’t stop pitching for attention with the headline.  Once you have the attention of the reader (or in the case of a video, the viewer,) you have to keep it.  Keep pitching throughout the message to keep the audience engaged.  How do you do this? Keep surfacing those crucial nuggets that describe why the story matters, and lead your audience through the message, laying a trail with these compelling ideas.

Close the deal with a pitch: What’s the outcome you want the audience to take? If you’ve kept the audience’s attention throughout the whole message, you’ve managed to generate a lot of interest.  Well done!  But now is not the time to take your foot off the gas.  Encourage the reader to take the next step, and use a pitch to do it.

Abandoning the power of the s the last thing I would do. As the availability of information multiplies and attention spans correspondingly decrease, honing the ability to craft messages designed to garner, keep and guide audience interest is important, and the pitch is a tactic that translates especially well to today’s attention market.


Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik .


Published: June 17, 2013 By: DAVIDK

Are You Behind When It Comes To Building A Corporate Social Media Strategy?

Are You Behind When It Comes To Building A Corporate Social Media Strategy?

By Shelby Jacobs, Social Media Project Manager, PRIME Research

Shelby Jacobs

Shelby Jacobs

Recently, I attended a conference on traditional and social media best practices for PR and other media professionals. I went with an idea in mind that these social media presentations would have evolved since the sessions I attended on the same topic nearly four years ago; that fellow professionals from well-known corporations in the audience would be far beyond the ‘get on Facebook, get onTwitter’s stage and ready for more advanced social media measurement techniques spanning all available social channels.

To my surprise, and frankly to my relief, many companies continue towork towards the inauguration of strategic social media profiles –from established channels such as Facebook and Twitter, to sites like PinterestLinkedIn andWeibo. With that said, the rest of this post relates two key questions for you to consider before jumping onto every social network.

1) To Blog or Not to Blog?

This should not be a question. Every single industry expert (from small organizations to large) continues to express to their audiences the importance of starting and maintaining a blog.

Key benefits:

·        SEO – drive traffic to your website by using relevant keywords and adding fresh content often; understand and craft content that will boost your search rankings on search engines like Bing and Google.

·        Expertise – craft content containing non-salesy messaging which can be shared with customers and relevant influencers to prove credibility and build relationships. In addition, by writing and publishing strong, valuable content, your readers are more likely to share and link back to your blog (also leading to more power for your website in the ‘eyes’ of search engines).

·        Audience Management – collect contact information from your readers by enabling a subscription option to receive new posts or a weekly newsletter.

·        Unique Content –going to drill this point home, if you are producing unique content, you will have something interesting and new to share across your social media profiles.

If you are wondering how to fit blogging into your schedule, take a look at this post from blogger and digital marketing professional, Heidi Cohen.

Recommended platforms for blogging: 

2) Which social channels will best meet your marketing and communication objectives?

With so many social channels being touted on a daily basis, which one(s) can bring your audience the most value?

Top Social Channels:

·        Facebook – a top social network. Facebook can be used for several reasons including: serving as a basic company information platform, testimonial generation, customer service, connecting with your audience on daily basis, hosting contests and promotions, sharing brand produced content. Facebook also offers a Facebook page analytics platform so you can gather data about your audience and engagement efforts.

·        Twitter –also a top social network; recently launched basic Twitter follower and timeline analytics. A key strength of twitter is its advanced search capability which allows you to find and connect with users based on specific topics/keyword criteria; great for influencer research. Twitter is also known for its strong public interaction capabilities; e.g. customer service, highly accessible influencers, efficient Q&A with target audiences.

·        Pinterest –fastest growing social network; Pinterest is currently known to cater more to a female audience, but there is definitely many opportunities to target the male audience with the right strategy. This network offers the ability to search and uncover your target audience’s world – typically via images, sometimes video. Uncover user hobbies, shopping interests, travel dreams, topics they seek more education on and more. Pinterest is being lauded as a reliable traffic driver to websites –of course this works best if your brand’s pins (a.k.a. shared content) on Pinterest truly does resonate with your audience and tells a story they want to associate themselves with.

·        LinkedIn –popular network with a more professional atmosphere; LinkedIn offers not only a platform for recruiting but also a more formal community for initiating and nurturing relationships with individuals of interest; join niche groups to connect with key people on a regular basis (post engaging questions; share and interact with content). LinkedIn company profiles enable users to quickly find information about your company, products and employees.

·        Instagram –popular application that is based on user generated photography, optional filters and follower ‘likes’; an engaging app for visual storytelling. Instagram offers brand’s the ability to crowd source branded/company-related captioned images using the search feature as well as the opportunity to take a peek into the lives of your audiences.

·        YouTube –top video sharing network; YouTube allows users to upload and store video content (similar site to check out: Vimeo). When a user posts a video with strong keyword descriptions, they gain SEO power which will ultimately drive traffic to their content. YouTube provides its users with analytics to track video success. When developing video content, it is important to test for high audio and picture quality and keep the video brief, around 30 seconds long if possible. Strategize content carefully – really think about what would be of the most value for the audience you are trying to reach. Is there an interview with a person of interest you could publish? Do you have a how-to you could present?

Other social media channels to consider (but not limited to): FourSquareFlickrYelpGoogle+, Bebo,OrkutTaggedMeetupVineSonico (Latin America), Zing, (Vietnam), Cyworld (Korea), Mixi (Japan),Sina Weibo/QZone/RenRen (China).

Where can your audience find you across social media? Are you still trying to figure out objectives and how you will monitor your efforts? Or are you ready to take your current efforts to the next level?

Questions? Thoughts? Connect with PRIME Research Social Media Project Manager, Shelby Jacobs at or on Twitter @ShelbyJac  or Linkedin.


About Shelby Jacobs

As a Social Media Project Manager at PRIME Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Shelby Jacobs provides social media management, analytics and actionable insights to some of the world’s most recognizable and socially active companies. PRIME Research is an award-winning global provider of social and traditional media monitoring, engagement, analytics and consultation.  Learn more at