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Common AP Style Mistakes in Press Releases Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Eight AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press Releases

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


It is important for PR, IR, marketing and commun­ication profes­sionals stay abreast of AP style, and its iterat­ions, so you can relate to the media on their level, write cleaner press releases, increase message adoption, and simply sound cool. Here are eight of the most common style bloopers to avoid:

Mistakes 1-10

1. Capita­lizing job titles after a person’s name – a no-no…
AP recommends that you only capitalize a title used before a person’s name, not after. The AP’s titles entry is long but worth a look since this is such a common element found in press releases.
2. Dates and times – eliminate redund­ancies.
Too often, we see dates written as “Wedne­sday, June 4, 2014” when writing simply “June 4” would suffice. Also, write dates as “June 4” and not “June 4th “ and times as “9:30 a.m.” and not AM. Always be careful with EDT vs. EST; simply using ET is a nice failsafe.
3. Trademark symbols – avoid them.
Trademarks and other symbols are not, and actually never have been, meant for use in PR and news copy. Remove these symbols to make it easier for reporters to utilize your releases.
4. Percent vs. % – in most cases, spell it out. Standard AP style suggests you write out “percent” in news releases, while utilizing the % symbol in tabular inform­ation such as financial tables.
5. Entitled vs. Titled – Can you spot the difference here?
The survey was titled “Top 100 AP Style Gaffes.” Let’s just say you’re entitled to make a few mistakes, just not AP style mistakes. In short, do not use “entitled” to refer to the title of something.
6. Acronyms come later – when referring to organi­zat­ions:
Do not put an acronym in parent­heses after the first reference to the organi­zation. Easily recogn­izable acronyms, by themse­lves, can be used on second reference without spelling out the organi­zat­ion’s name a second time.
7. The dreaded –ly – avoid hyphen­ating these words:
Do not hyphenate a compound modifier when using adverbs that end in -ly, such as commer­cia­lly­-av­ailable products. The correct style is commer­cially available products, no hyphen.
8. Write it out – don’t use shortcuts when referring to numbers:
As the AP points out, spell out numerals one through nine and use figures for 10 or above.

How to Write a Press Release

Lexisnexis Press Release Mistakes

1. The title isn't concise and straight to the point
2. Your lead isn't strong enough
3. The copy is too promot­ional

Eleven Mistakes

1. Unattr­active Headline
2. Writing In First / Second Person View
3. Too Little / Too Much Content
4. Written like an advert­isement
5. Incorp­orating Obvious Selling Language
6. Over-Hyped Copy and CAPS
7. Not Making The Most Of Quotes
8. Poorly Written
9. Too Many Embedded Links
10. No News is Bad News
11. No SEO

Eight Top Release Mistakes

1. Your release has no style.
2. Your release has too much style.
3. What you’re sending isn’t really news.
4. You’re using a press release when a different tactic will be more effective.
5. You’re using spray-­and­-pray tactics.
6. You don’t do your journalist or blogger research.
7. Your release is long-w­inded.
8. You have terrible timing.