Q: Hi, I came across an old article you wrote about the argument for using AP style. How in the world can I convince people in my government agency to use it?
I’m a former newspaper journalist and seeing people just distort the writing drives me crazy. They’re talking about even using Chicago style for our press releases and pamphlets.
What’s a good reason to get them on board??
Ah, the ongoing dilemma … when non-journalists don’t understand the importance of AP style.
I don’t know which of my articles you came across, but “Why I Am an AP Style Stickler” should help some.
Getting the whole agency to use it is tough, since people are steadfast on their writing habits (even if they are incorrect!), but your organization’s press materials – or anything going to the media – should always be in AP style.
Explain to your colleagues that putting press materials in Chicago style will not only irk reporters (causing them to pause over unnecessary commas, instead of reading and absorbing the content), but add unnecessary work (the media will have to change everything to AP style – meaning they’re less likely to reprint what you sent them verbatim), and it is just disrespectful.
It’s called a press release; it’s for the press – it needs to be treated as such.
You could compare it to sending an email to your boss that said “Yo, man, What’s up?” It’s the wrong vernacular and tone. Just like writing a friendly versus a business letter, you have to apply the appropriate style for the media.
As for using it in general, you can emphasize that AP style was developed, in part, for copy to be easily read by the public. It is the style that the public reads every day in magazines and newspapers, so why not have everything in that style?
If your agency still refuses to listen, you may want to try and convince them to develop a formal style guide that everyone will stick to – some people will never budge on certain things, but you can at least attempt to make everyone consistent.
Best of luck!
“The AP Stylist” is written by Sandy Young, SoCalPRBlog’s resident contributor for all things AP style. Young is a public relations senior account executive at J. Walcher Communications and freelance writer who resides in Alpine, Calif. (East San Diego County). She has been a member of several of San Diego’s top public relations and marketing communications agencies, is currently a board member for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) San Diego/Imperial Valley Chapter and has worked with clients in a wide variety of industries nationwide.
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