5 AP style changes of note for PR and marketing pros

The 2015 edition of AP Stylebook contains several additions and revisions to food, sports, news and social media terms.

The 2015 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook contains 300 new or revised terms.

The AP Stylebook isn’t strictly a guide for journalists anymore. The newest edition contains this endorsement by Alexa Hoffman, PR Newswire’s product manager:

As a former newspaper reporter and editorial manager, I grew accustomed to reaching for the AP Stylebook for all of my editorial needs. Now that I work hand-in-hand with PR professionals, it remains a great guide to crafting clear messages that resonate with professional audiences.

Colleen Newvine, AP Stylebook’s product manager, says this is the first year the stylebook has had a PR pro endorse the book on its back cover.

According to David Minthorn, one of the editors, updating the stylebook is a year-round project that takes into account current usages and an annual survey.

Here are five changes you should know about:

1. News terms.

There have been a few changes to terms and phrases used in news reporting that are helpful for PR pros to know.

A new entry has been added regarding suicides and suicide attempts. Overall, AP recommends avoiding detail on the methods used, with the following style change:

Minthorn told Poynter the reason for the entry:

“Committed in that context suggests possibly an illegal act, but in fact, laws against suicide have been repealed in the US, at least in certain states, and many other places,” Minthorn said, “so we’re going to avoid using that term on our own, although it’s a term that authorities widely use and we will use it while quoting authorities.

It’s also advised to use “Affordable Care Act” sparingly, as not all Americans recognize the law by its formal name. AP suggests using “President Barack Obama’s health care law” or “the health care law” on first reference, and “Obamacare”—in quotation marks—on second reference.

2. Food names and phrases.

“BLT”—formerly bacon, lettuce and tomato—is now acceptable on first reference.

For PR and marketing pros writing copy for the brewing industry, “craft brewery” should replace the use of “microbrewery.”

These terms are far from the only changes in the Stylebook’s 2015 edition:

3. Social media lingo.

“Favorite” is now an acceptable term for the Twitter button users use to “express approval for a tweet, and/or to bookmark that tweet, and any associated links, for later consumption,” according to the AP Stylebook.

“Favorite” can also be used as a verb, as in: I favorite all the tweets from PR Daily’s Twitter account.

Though social media professionals have used “memes” to increase online interaction with their audiences for a while, it’s now an official AP style term. A “meme” is “a piece of information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that’s shared verbally or transmitted widely, often in social media.”

If you’ve ever used “Rickrolling” or “LOLCats” in your content marketing efforts, rejoice. AP Stylebook has recognized your online creations.

4. Sports slang and organization names.

AP Stylebook now includes several standardized basketball terms, such as “Elite Eight” and “Final Four,” which are now capitalized.

That’s not the only sport with style changes:

PR and marketing pros also should be aware that AP is also putting the brakes on sports clichés, according to a new stylebook entry shared by Columbia Journalism Review:

A team losing a game is not a “disaster.” Home runs are homers, not “dingers,” “jacks” or “bombs.” A player scored 10 straight points, not 10 “unanswered” points. If a football team scores two touchdowns and the opponent doesn’t come back, say it “never trailed” rather than “never looked back.” In short, avoid hackneyed words and phrases, redundancies and exaggerations.

5. Index of terms.

Though not a style revision, AP Stylebook has added an 85-page index to its 2015 edition to help users find words more quickly.

With 300 additions or revisions, the index may come in handy.

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