There’s more to writing a press release than the average person thinks. Not only is there a particular format to follow (headline, summary, date, content, about the company), but there are also a set of standard procedures you should adhere to. This is known as “Proper AP Style.” No clue what that means? If not, read on and learn how to make sure your press releases follow commonly held stylistic procedures.
What is AP Style?
AP stands for “Associated Press.” This is the group who has set various regulations in place for print news publications to follow. While these aren’t the only rules out there, they are the most commonly followed in the industry. The Associated Press has also set standards for press releases, which will be discussed at length below.
Some AP Rules to Keep in Mind When Writing a Press Release
1. Set your main objective in your introduction. We’ve discussed this at length on this blog before. It is standard practice to set your goal in the beginning. If the editor reads the first line or two without finding the objective of the release, they’re going to toss it and move on to the next.
2. Cover the five Ws in the body of the release. Once you have an editor’s attention, you need to deliver the pay off. Following the 5 Ws will make this happen. In other words, make sure you give them all the information they need to write a full story. That way they don’t have to dig deep, because as you know, they don’t have the time to dig deep on their tight deadlines.
3. Check your spacing with punctuation. Here’s where it starts getting a little more technical. While it may seem picky, you should only use one space after punctuation—none before. This may be different for you, as some people like to add two spaces after punctuation.
4. Drop that extra comma. Typically when you list items in a series, you have the option to use a comma or not before that last and. For example: I ate bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate. Or: I ate bananas, peanut butter and chocolate. Well, when following AP Style, you drop that last comma. I’m going to admit, it drives me nuts. I like the last comma, but I’ve had to make myself quit using it when writing press releases.
5. Use full names and titles only when introducing someone. When you first introduce someone in your release, like a CEO for example, you need to give their full name and title. But after that, don’t keep doing so, as it will prove superfluous and make your writing sound clunky. After the introduction, simply use their last name.
6. Get your numbers right. AP Style rules for numbers are a bit tricky. Spell out numbers 1-9. After that, use numerals like “10.” Also, use numbers for dates, and abbreviate months with more than five letters.
Why AP Style is Important When Writing a Press Release
Yes, it seems trivial. Who cares if you get all the little intricacies correct? Well, editors do. And since you want them to pick up your story, you need to play by their rules. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Do you format your press releases for AP? Any other rules you find to be most important?
Tags: news publications, press releases, punctuation, tight deadlines, writing a press release
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/beginnersguide.html