Thursday, October 8, 2009

For the Publicist's Toolkit: The AP Stylebook

If you're new to publicity and aren't certain about the rules used by the media for language capitalization, abbreviations, usage, etc. in your media relations tools that include press releases and tip sheets, then you absolutely need The Associated Press Stylebook.

Here's why: Most print and legitimate online news sites use what is known as the "AP style" when writing and editing text for publication so that all of the content has a consistent look. The "rules" include using abbreviations for states that do not match the USPS appreviations (Kansas is Kan., not KS, for example). You want the information you submit for publication to use this style because it means your content will require less editing. Less editing means less work; less work means your material is more likely to be used. This is good!

While you don't need to read it cover-to-cover, you should scan it and then keep it at your desk. I have been writing for publication for longer than I care to share, and I still pull mine off the shelf every once in awhile to find an answer. You can buy it online and in most bookstores, and it's less than $20, so make this investment in your publicity plan. It will give your content more credibility -- nothing's worse than the random capitalization that shows up in the materials of the novice -- and might keep it from being deleted.


Toni V. said...

Hi! I have your Streetwise Book and Publicity for nonprofits and had a quick question. What would you recommend our nonprofit use as our house style guide? AP style is a little funny when used for consumer communications, so what would you suggest as a good reference? Thanks!

Sandra Beckwith said...

Hi Toni,

I recommend the AP style for all written communications, internal and external, whether you're talking about a press release, newsletter, or fundraising letter. Advertising copy is a whole 'nother thing -- seems like nobody applies any rules to that. Capitalization is random and bad grammar is rampant.

Let me know if I can provide any other help -- I'm so glad you have my books!