Impact Insights Blog

Five Ways You Might Be Getting it Wrong When You Write

March 24, 2022

Great writing never goes out of style, though when it comes to Associated Press (AP) Style – the accepted go-to style for most journalists and newsrooms – it pays to review the guidelines regularly to stay up-to-date. Each year new recommendations are released, so what was correct in 2002 or 2012 may not be the way to go in 2022.

Being less than current has its risks. Sending materials to journalists in an outdated style could leave you looking out of step or, worse, less than polished and professional. Plus, writing in the way an editor expects to see materials can mean the difference between a news placement and being placed in the email wastebin.

Our PR agency is obsessed with hitting the mark, so when public relations assistant Brooke Gastin recently attended a workshop by Katie Place, Ph.D., APR, associate professor at Quinnipiac University, through PRSA’s Greater Connecticut chapter, we were all ears. Here were a few of her favorite takeaways, summarized to help you write to delight media and increase your PR pickups.

Take the Time to Write Times

The details matter when it comes to how you share times in a press release. Periods should go after “a.m.” and “p.m.” and noon is to be written out as the spelled word, not 12 p.m. If specifying a time that lands on the hour, use 9 a.m. without the minutes, but if it’s somewhere between, opt for 9:15 or 9:30 a.m. Also, no need for the capitals when it comes to a.m. and p.m., even though we’ve all seen it that way many times over.

Nail Your Numerals

A few rules apply to writing numbers in the news format. In general, 10 or more should be written in numeral form while nine or fewer requires numbers to be written out. A few exceptions apply, including ages. So, a 9-year old or a 99-year-old would both receive the same treatment.

Travel the Path

AP Style may be starting to seem like a long and winding road of rules and regulations, and here’s more: addresses. However, if you’re writing an address with a number, i.e., 44 Cherry St., the street, lane or avenue always gets abbreviated. But if you’re referencing a parade that’s taking place on Main Street – you need to spell it out.

Evolve, Down to the Details

Like everything in life, AP Style evolves with the times and there are a few newer rules to note. DEI and inclusion language calls for Black, Latino/a/x, Asian American to be capitalized and white in lower-case. If writing about COVID-19 cases, be mindful of the caps.

Get in the Right State of Mind

The dateline of a press release requires city and state to be written out as RICHMOND, V.A., with the city capitalized and the proper state abbreviation. But in matters of location, there are exceptions aplenty. Certain cities are spelled out without states included – CHICAGO, NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES are among them. And more cities, still, aren’t abbreviated at all, but are to be written in full, such as TEXAS and MAINE.  And when you’re writing dates, “th” “st” or “nd” aren’t needed – dates should be written as March 24, 2022.

While nailing AP style can be intimidating, just know that a quick check of AP Style via your favorite web browser as you finalize any press release goes a long way. Furthermore, all of us here at Impact love to geek out about these things and we’re always here to bounce off AP Style or grammatical concerns. We’d love to hear from you.