Posts Tagged ‘style guide’


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?

Good PR or Copyright Landmine?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

Earlier this month, a rapper named Shirt wrote an article about himself, but he did it under the byline of Jon Caramanica, a New York Times critic and hip-hop point man. He also selected snippets of text from previously-published articles, rounded it out with his own, and posted on the site nytimes.la, which was designed as a pretty good doppelganger for the real Times site.

Not only did Shirt, who did the site design himself, use the Times masthead and design, he also used the Times’ headlines, content preview, and photos. Of course, it doesn’t look completely identical –  among other things, the margins are different, the text isn’t as clear, and in his article, he made the style guide faux pas of writing “e-mail,” not “email.”

The nytimes.la homepage is a giant hyperlink to the real Times site, but is that enough to make up for using the New York Times proprietary design, not to mention the reporter’s name?

In the context of achieving his goal – getting attention – Shirt’s stunt was successful. But where is the line between great PR and breach of copyright? And is it a breach if he linked back to the Times? As with all copyright issues, it’s a murky one at best, and terms like fair use and parody are likely to come up if action is pursued.

We’ve discussed before that the FTC does not like ads disguised as editorial content, but that is in the context of paid native advertising, which this is not. So in building his own version of the New York Times online, did Shirt skirt the issue?

Like most brilliant PR moves , Shirt’s article got him a lot of press attention that he hadn’t previously received (including this insightful article from NPR about the struggles of hip-hop musicians trying to get noticed and about how Shirt operates). Getting noticed is the underlying directive of PR campaigns, which Shirt obviously did successfully, but the other question is, when the conversation moves on, will the few weeks of media notice make any difference?

Yes, it was a pretty good stunt. But PR pros know that good PR is a continuing dialogue, not a one-off shout into the ether. It will be interesting to see whether there are any aftershocks from Shirt’s article, or whether it disappears.

Where do you think the line is between good PR and copyright breach?