“AP style” refers to the guidelines from The Associated Press Stylebook, which is considered the standard reference against which all news writing is measured. Its purpose is to promote uniformity for ease of reading and a common understanding.
AP Style dictates the rules of news writing, including standardized punctuation and grammar conventions and how to properly use abbreviations, titles and formal names. For example, state abbreviations in AP Style are different than in other styles of writing.
In addition, AP adheres to basic rules for constructing a press release, such as stating your objective at the beginning and covering “The 5 W’s” of writing. To stay current with trends and keep up with changes, the stylebook is updated continuously. There are other news writing style guides, such as the New York Times Style Guide and the Chicago Manual of Style, but the AP Stylebook is by far the most widely used.
Why AP style is important to PR and to you
You may think that because you’re just developing a press release or blog and not a news story, AP style doesn’t need to be a concern for you. However, there are several reasons why knowing about and writing in AP style makes a difference:
Media attention – These days, journalists can get information about your company from a variety of sources – including your website, social media posts and even internal publications – in addition to press releases. If your press release is written using AP style, your chances of attracting their attention and getting them to select your release for positive news coverage will increase. When writing for journalists, you’re playing in their backyard, so you should follow their rules to keep your press releases from being rejected.
Your company’s credibility – There should be consistency and continuity in every written document your company produces. You want people to view you as a trustworthy resource in business and in your industry. Instead, seemingly small mistakes such as not knowing whether words like “internet” and “web” should be capitalized can make you appear out of touch.
Make an impression with key audiences – You must ensure that important stakeholders have a good perception of your company and brand. This can include customers and prospects, potential employees, board members and other industry thought-leaders. Improper grammar usage – especially common punctuation and syntax errors – makes you look lazy and unprofessional.
As a professional journalist and PR pro, I understand the rules of the news media and work within them to get the best possible media attention for your company, products, initiatives, and experts. Using AP style, I make sure that your messages are accurately received by both the media and your target audiences.