Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Copy quality affects swift publication of news release

One of the best professional investments I ever made was a $1 or $2 purchase: an Associated Press (AP) Stylebook that I found at a Santa Rosa yard sale. The book served me well during a two-year tenure as vice president of public relations for my local Toastmasters club, Tenacious Talkers, No. 8731.

I realize that club members who serve in any office are doing so as volunteers and may not be willing to take on added responsibility of writing to journalistic standards.

But when I worked as volunteer publicist for my Toastmasters club, I tried to give it as much care, professionally, as I do when I am editing on-the-clock at the Record-Bee.

Some submitted copy comes from people who style themselves freelance publicists. The AP Stylebook ought to occupy a prominent place in their personal library.

AP standards make all the difference in swift publication of a news release.

The appropriate way to refer to someone, according to AP style, is by first and last name on first reference and by last name thereafter.

An editor has to take extra time when correcting a press release that refers to people by first names instead. We do not use courtesy titles: no “Mr.,” “Mrs.” or “Ms.” Any sprinkling of such in your news release has to be edited out.

Even more time is required to track missing information: people referred to by first names only or, in the case of elementary school classes, “Mrs. Such-and-such’s class.”

The more time we spend chasing missing information will result in your submitted publicity taking that much longer to see print.

On the other hand, don’t submit copy that mimics tabloid journalism. This is not AP style.

One recent submission, the purpose of which should have been to announce an event’s change in venue, instead devoted most of its copy to accusations of corruption by a source who “wished to remain anonymous.”

It disgusts me that the sender holds my character as a journalist in such evident contempt. The purpose of the media is to inform the community, not to serve as mouthpieces for personal grievances.

The AP Stylebook includes a briefing upon media law, specifically awareness of libel.

The Associated Press 2009 Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law is available through the catalog of Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma County libraries. The AP releases a new edition every year, but most information in each stylebook remains consistent with older editions.

Published Sept. 25, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

No comments:

Post a Comment

Robust debate and even unusual opinions are encouraged, but please stay on-topic and be respectful. Comments are subject to review for personal attacks or insults, discriminatory statements, hyperlinks not directly related to the discussion and commercial spam.