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The Secret Language of Public Relations: AP Style Guide

Many PR professionals have a love/hate relationship with the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide. It’s the one book that guides every written document that is provided to media and its continually updated guidelines can make the difference between you looking like a pro or a newbie. Below are the top five AP mistakes our team sees most often in the field and how to avoid them.

  1. Lowercase titles don’t make you any less important: Keep titles lowercase unless a formal title is used immediately before the person’s name. For instance, “Julie Lando, president of GRIT Marketing Group.”
  2. Months are tricky just to keep you on your toes: When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.
  3. Percent – cut the symbol: Always use a figure for a percentage and always use the word “percent” instead of the symbol.
  4. Names – that’s not a typo: Use the person’s full name on the first reference and last name only on all other references throughout a news release.
  5. Numbers: Spell out one through nine, but use figures for 10 or above. Always use figures for ages.

Today’s media are working on urgent deadlines with shrinking staff. Paying attention to the AP Style Guide shows reporters that we have respect for their demanding industry. When you’re focused on gaining earned media coverage — details matter!

Drop us a line at [email protected] with any questions or if we can share any information about the power of public relations (using good AP style, of course) to boost a brand.