Eight AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press Releases

Eight AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press Releases.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of PR tips tied  the AP style guidelines. To read “PR Pros, Journalists Tackle Latest AP Stylebook,” click here.

Image of Eight AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press ReleasesBy Luke O’Neill, Editor, Business Wire

Associated Press style has been in the news recently, at least for journalists and public relations professionals, after announcing a rash of controversial changes. As you know, it is important for PR, IR, marketing and communication professionals stay abreast of AP style, and its iterations, so you can relate to the media on their level, write cleaner press releases, increase message adoption, and simply sound cool.

Of course, you must consider the style preferences of your company or clients, but you also have an obligation to the media – the end user – to craft a well-written story. With that said, we at Business Wire see our share of AP style blunders in press releases. Here are eight of the most common style bloopers to avoid:

  1. Image of Eight AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press ReleasesCapitalizing job titles after a person’s name – a no-no… AP recommends that you onlycapitalize a title used before a person’s name, not after. The AP’s titles entry is long but worth a look since this is such a common element found in press releases.
  2. Dates and times – eliminate redundancies. Too often, we see dates written as “Wednesday, June 4, 2014” when writing simply “June 4” would suffice. Also, write dates as “June 4” and not “June 4th “ and times as “9:30 a.m.” and not AM. Always be careful with EDT vs. EST; simply using ET is a nice failsafe.
  3. Trademark symbols – avoid them. Trademarks and other symbols are not, and actually never have been, meant for use in PR and news copy. Remove these symbols to make it easier for reporters to utilize your releases.
  4. Percent vs. % – in most cases, spell it out. Standard AP style suggests you write out “percent” in news releases, while utilizing the % symbol in tabular information such as financial tables.
  5. Entitled vs. Titled – Can you spot the difference here?  The survey was titled “Top 100 AP Style Gaffes.” Let’s just say you’re entitled to make a few mistakes, just not AP style mistakes. In short, do not use “entitled” to refer to the title of something.
  6. Acronyms come later – when referring to organizations: Do not put an acronym in parentheses after the first reference to the organization. Easily recognizable acronyms, by themselves, can be used on second reference without spelling out the organization’s name a second time.
  7. The dreaded –ly – avoid hyphenating these words: Do not hyphenate a compound modifier when using adverbs that end in-ly, such as commercially-available products. The correct style is commercially available products, no hyphen.
  8. Write it out – don’t use shortcuts when referring to numbers: As the AP points out, spell out numerals one through nine and use figures for 10 or above.

Looking to create a stronger relationship with today’s journalists?  Correcting these small mistakes in your press releases will help reporters and other key constituents read, adapt and share your news.

About the Author:  Luke O’Neill, formerly a newspaper reporter and copy editor, is an editor at Business Wire Boston. He has nearly 15 years of communications experience and a master’s degree in journalism.