By Eric Hamilton
Is this post titled or entitled “Follow AP Style to Connect Well with Media?”
For those who aspire to build and sustain relationships with media professionals, the right answer may be more important than you think.
It’s titled, by the way, and those who know Associated Press style, or understand the value of consulting it, deliver a lot of right answers.
Different manuals for different folks
Writers follow several different manuals, depending on the audience for which they’re writing. The most common styles include:
- APA for psychology, education and other social sciences.
- MLA (literature, arts and humanities).
- AMA (medicine, health and biological sciences).
- Chicago Style (books, magazines, newspapers and other non-scholarly publications).
- Turabian (college students, all subjects).
News media professionals follow the AP Stylebook, which was created by the Associated Press in 1953. The manual was established so that all media writers would follow the same rules, all editors would edit according to those rules and all readers would encounter a common style, regardless of what publication they read or what town they’re in.
The AP Stylebook provides guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.
The media aren’t the only ones who follow AP style. Public relations pros and others who interact frequently with media have also mastered it as one more way to sharpen media favor for their information.
4 Benefits of Following AP Style
Here are four reasons anyone who wants to connect well with the media should follow AP style.
It makes you look like you care. Information that reaches a reporter has just a few seconds to catch and keep his or her attention. A news release or email riddled with AP style errors has a much greater chance of meeting the delete button.
Following AP style (like most journalists do) conveys that you respect the way news pros deliver information to their readers. That makes it more likely that media will look favorably on your information.
It makes journalists’ jobs easier. You want the media to know you, but not as someone who sends material that requires extensive rewriting. Today’s reporters are pressed for time and anything you can do to make their lives easier is appreciated. The cleaner and more “news friendly” your copy is, the less work reporters need to do. So they are more likely to welcome your information in the future.
It will improve your writing. Following AP style will improve your writing in general. Knowing AP style (or when to look something up) brings discipline, clarity and economy to writing, which can serve you well in many areas of business and life, far beyond media relations.
More of your content will get published. Most importantly, information provided in AP style is more likely to wind up in print, on the air or on a news site. Moreover, items written in AP style are more likely to be published with fewer edits.
Get Your Own AP Stylebook
To obtain your own copy of the AP Stylebook and keep up on changes, visit the official website here.
To measure your knowledge of AP style, try these sample quizzes.
Eric Hamilton is a public relations consultant with Pecchia Communications and a former newspaper reporter and editor.
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