Posts Tagged ‘AP Style’

Your Guide to Style Guide Apps

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Guide to Style Guide Apps BurrellesLuce Ellis Friedman Public Relations PR Software Media Monitoring Press Clipping

screenshot of The Writer’s style guide app

One of the keys to consistent messaging and brand voice is having an in-house style guide, even if that guide is just plain ol’ AP style. The drawback to style guides is that, frankly, few but the wordsmiths reference them and they’re not always super accessible (who wants to carry around AP Stylebook or wade through docs to find the in-house guide?). Luckily, there are apps for that. In searching, we only found three of them, but they should be able to at least cover your basics. Here’s our mini-roundup of style guide apps.

AP Stylebook 2014

AP style is the stalwart style guide of newsrooms and the jumping-off point for most corporate style guides (at least in my experience). If you don’t want the bulk of the old-school paper version, AP has you covered with their iPhone app, though at $24.99, it costs more than the paper copy.

The app covers all your favorite spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and style guidelines and includes audio along with phonetic pronunciation guides.

The Writer’s Style Guide app

This new (and free!) Android and iPhone app puts a lot of your most burning language and usage questions right next to your Facebook app. It’s got plenty of handy entries about hyphens, ampersands, and more, but be aware that it is its own style guide and is British (for example, they prefer the British “per cent” over the American “percent,” and both of them over “%”). But it’s got great information, a section where you can input your own writing for a readability analysis, and even a fun writing trivia quiz.

APA Reference Guide

APA, aka the American Psychological Association, has its own manual of style, and its own app ($2.99) of the manual. OK, this one might not be as immediately helpful to public relations pros, but the style guide is used by a number of scientific and academic journals and textbooks.

Do you have another writing or style guide app you use?

The 2014 AP Stylebook Is Out – Here’s Why PR Pros Should Pay Attention

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

It’s that time of year again: your AP Stylebook is out of date. That’s because yesterday the 2014 Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law made its spiral-bound way into the world. This year’s edition features about 200 new additions and/or revisions, and adds an entire chapter with “more than 200 religion terms.” [Per what may be this year’s most controversial revision, the AP wrote “over 200 terms,” as the title, but it looks like they decided to toe the old-school “more than” line in their press release.]

Over the past few months, they’ve alerted us to the newest revisions: there was the aforementioned “over/more than” debacle; state names should now be spelled out instead of abbreviated in the body of a story; and it is now “Wal-Mart” in all instances.

We’ve written about media styles (and using AP style in the digital age) before, but it’s worth revisiting why the AP Stylebook is so important for public relations professionals.

Following AP style makes you look like you care

When a reporter clicks on your press release, his or her attention is yours to lose, and typos or incorrectly capitalized words make that release easy to ignore. Here’s what Dan Friedman, a journalist and my dad, has to say about that: “I get so many press releases that they’re like sitting ducks; if you make your press release easy to ignore or delete, it makes my day go that much quicker. But the clean, nicely done press releases I get are so compelling that sometimes I can’t say no.”

Following AP style rules (like most journalists do) makes it clear that you care about the English language, which in turn makes you look smart and shows you care about your readers.

Journalists will be more likely to give you a chance

You want to be known in the newsroom, but not as the flack who send press releases that require heavy editing. Sending clean news releases that adhere to AP style makes journalists much more likely to read your release without feeling itchy inside. That will, in turn, make them more amenable to working with you. That doesn’t mean that one AP-style news release will get you a mention, but consistent good writing can only help your cause.

It will improve your writing

Following AP style will improve your writing both in and out of press releases. Referring to the AP Stylebook as you write means you’ll be paying more attention to your writing, which can only improve it. Familiarizing yourself with AP style and adhering to it means you’ll also be on the lookout in your colleagues’ writing, which will also make you a better editor.

It’s true that I have a soft spot for both grammar and AP Stylebook (they don’t call me @ellisredpen for nothing), but I’ve also been a journalist and am the offspring of two of them, so I know of what I speak.  Remember: friends don’t let friends capitalize job titles when they appear after a person’s name.

It’s In the Stars: Your Public Relations Horoscope

Monday, April 28th, 2014
by NASA Goddard Space Center on flickr under CC BY

by NASA Goddard Space Center on flickr under CC BY

In lieu of a crystal ball, we’ve consulted the BurrellesLuce “stars” to share what the month of May may have in store for you.

Find your birth month below and share the link with your peers so you’re all “aligned” in May.


This is the month to buckle down and start figuring out just what the heck people mean by social media ROI (hint: it’s sort of a misnomer. ROI is a financial figure) and what your metrics and methods are or should be.


Knowledge of the recent changes in the AP Stylebook – and an appropriate opinion thereof – can score points in your favor. A journalist who doesn’t have to go in and replace state abbreviations with full state names is a happy journalist.


You might be attending a panel, conference, or webinar coming up this month, and you’re in the mood to learn, so if someone tells you something basic like “know your audience” one more time, you might feel the need to deck them with your iPad. But stay patient and listen closely; there are always new things to learn, and buried in the repeated tropes and truisms of the trade will be a piece of advice that could really elevate your practice.


This is your month to revamp your social media swagger and take a broom to all your profiles and tinker with SEO and your images. Don’t go overboard with your makeover efforts, though – if you change too much, you’ll alienate a few key brand advocates.


You’ve got a lot of prep to do for a looming event or deadline, so hop to it this month. Sit down in a quiet place, put on your mood music, and get to work. But don’t forget to make time to party like you’re one year older.


You may be a networking master or shudder at the mere mention of networking, but either way, it’s the month to get yourself out there, so do your awesome but in-a-lull self a favor and attend a couple networking functions this month.

Focus on getting through your ever-growing to-do list.  It’s time to change up your productivity habits. Maximize your spring fever by taking some work outside. You’ll feel energized and reap the professional rewards.


Get back in touch with an old professional acquaintance this month. You may get not only an entertaining, nostalgic lunch or phone call, but also the chance to help or be helped by your friend. S/he may even let slip a key piece of industry gossip that will shed new light on things.


The extra work from clients and colleagues getting ready for summer vacation may be harshing your to-do list mellow, but a little extra planning and a happy hour or two will keep you on top of it. If you’re going on holiday take a cue and start planning ahead. If you’re not getting out of dodge for a few days, maybe you should, and if you can’t, consider a one- or two-day staycation.


Man, all these new apps and social media platforms you can barely keep track of make you feel old. So in May, put a little special time in to personal and professional self-improvement. Take a few minutes to find out what all that chatter about SnapChat is about, or learn just what the heck WeChat is anyway.


Remember that crisis communications plan you had? Yeah, it’s time to dust that off and review it again. If you just implemented a new or updated plan, consider trotting it out for a dress rehearsal. Don’t brush aside that absolute worst case scenario that has a miniscule chance of ever occurring – if you can think it, it can happen, unless it involves Godzilla (but maybe zombies; that could happen).


It might seem like a lot of people are asking you for things. So this month focus on selectively saying no. Some people might not take your polite and reasonable “no” very well, but that’s their problem, not yours. Just don’t get overzealous with your refusals; there are some things that just can’t be refused.

A Guide to Media Styles

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Is your writing up to style guide snuff?Most professional writers get itchy when they see typos, grammatical errors, and incorrect punctuation. When I was an editor and journalist, I ignored or deleted press releases that were poorly written, filled with errors, or totally irrelevant. Other media professionals do the same thing, so you need to make sure your material doesn’t fall into that same black hole.

Writers adhere to their outlet’s official style guide, so PR professionals crafting material for the media need to be familiar with the basics of the most common style guides. Understanding these style guides – and even learning some of their guidelines – can only improve your writing, which can only improve your chances at piquing an editor’s interest.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

The Elements of Style is a manifesto for clear, effective writing. Packed with helpful guidelines and grammar rules, EOS was first published in 1918 and most recently updated in 2000. EOS covers rules of usage, principles of composition, misused words and expressions, and style tips. At only 103 pages, it’s accessible and necessary for anyone who ever writes anything.

EOS quick tip: Omit needless words. Instead of “He is a man who knows what he’s doing,” write “He knows what he’s doing.” Once you start looking, you’d be surprised how many words are unnecessary.

The Associated Press Style Book and Briefing on Media Law

Since its debut in 1953, The AP Stylebook has become the industry standard for newspapers, magazines, and other journalism media and is excellent tool to have in one’s PR belt. Updated every year, the stylebook’s most recent edition is nearly 500 pages, which diminishes its day-to-day practicality for those who aren’t copy editors. But the guide’s ubiquity means it’s particularly important to grasp the basics and employ them in your writing.

AP Stylebook quick tip: Capitalize formal titles when they appear immediately before a name. For example, “President Fitzwilliam Grant will seek a second term.” Don’t capitalize the title if it appears between commas, like “Fitzwilliam Grant, the current president, will seek a second term.”

The Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style, or CMOS, is, like AP style, one of the most widely-used style guides in the U.S. CMOS is used primarily in the publishing industry. First published in 1906 and last updated with its 16th edition in 2010, CMOS has a section dedicated to citations, making it particularly useful to those in the academic and research fields.

CMOS quick tip: Access to the CMOS Q&A section is free (unlike AP’s Q&A section, which requires a subscription), so you can check out some of the rules without purchasing the guide, though rules differ from the AP’s.

The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage

The Gray Lady has her own style guide, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. Initially created in 1950 (three years before the AP’s guide), the guide’s most recent print edition was published in 2002, but editors at the paper use an online version that is frequently updated but not available to the public.

NYT Manual quick tips: The New York Times uses courtesy titles before a person’s last name, for example, “George Smith went to Washington. Mr. Smith is a senate page.” In AP style, that would read “George Smith Went to Washington. Smith is a senate page.” The New York Times also writes “e-mail,” though AP did away with the dash in 2011.

House Style

Many publications, companies, and organizations have their own house style guide; those I have seen are all based on AP style. Those who write any public content for their organization should know (and update) their house style guide and enforce it. If the organization has a copy editor or designated writer, ask that he or she provide a copy of the style guide to all employees, and that everyone is alerted to any changes.

What does your company use? How do you decide which style points to follow?

#PR, #Google+, #SocialMedia, #Measurement, #MediaRelations….Summer Reading Part 2

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Sometimes the best information you receive has been shared by your social media connections. In an earlier post, I linked to some of the interesting articles I came across regarding public relations and PR measurement. Below are some additional, must reads involving Google+ and social media.


I could fill a few blog posts listing other articles about Google+. The multitude of social media discussions on whether or not Google+ will defeat Facebook and Twitter seem to be endless. I don’t think anyone knows, yet, how the platform will ultimately perform, but you might want to brush-up on it, just in case.

  • Six Tips for Using Google+ Now, on Spin Sucks,  by Gini Dietrich outlines the basics for getting started on the platform. Of course, you will need to join, either via a friend’s invite or directly on Google+, during the network’s open registration period, first! 
  • Claire Celsi, The Public Relations Princess, posted, Google+ What’s in it for Me?, a post listing some of the unique features to check-out.

No time to read?

Social Media and the Web

Do you have any PR summer reads to share with the Fresh Ideas readers?