What You Need to Know About AP Style for 2018

As a follow-up to an earlier blog post on the importance of communicators’ adhering to AP Style, each year, in order to stay relevant, editors meet and make updates to the style book. Then we all need to learn the new rules. This year was no exception, and the following is a list of the more noteworthy AP Style changes in 2017.

  • Singular “they” – AP Style now allows the use of “they” as a singular pronoun when rewriting the sentence would be awkward.
  • “He” is no longer acceptable for gender-neutral.
  • Cyberattack – The word refers to a computer operation carried out over a device or network that causes physical damage or significant and widespread disruption.

  • Fake news – Use in quotation marks.
  • Flyer, flier – AP changed the spelling from frequent flier to flyer after reviewing airline industry websites and determining this was the spelling most commonly used in the industry. Flyer is also the spelling for a paper handout.
  • Virtual reality, augmented reality – You can use VR on second reference, but spell out augmented reality in all references.
  • Esports – One word, no hyphen. It refers to competition using video games.
  • Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program – According to AP, use the acronym DACA sparingly and only on the second reference. Do not use DREAMers or dreamers to describe DACA recipients.
  • Emoji or emoji – No hyphen, and only capitalize at the beginning of a sentence.

As a side note, the GroundFloor Media (GFM) team recently met with the Western U.S. Regional AP Bureau chief, Jim Clarke, and we were able to have a candid conversation about how PR professionals can best work with AP. A few key nuggets:

  • Press releases: While they are still used extensively, they are less relevant for the media. He advised us to not lead with the press release, develop a strong pitch instead. Also, there’s no reason that any press release should be more than 300 words. As PR practitioners, there’s always a fine line with the client when developing a press release. Oftentimes, the client wants to include numerous quotes from multiple people, and frequently, too much content that isn’t relevant for the reporter and what they need to know: who, what, when, where, why and how (in the first paragraph).
  • Getting the AP to Cover Your Company/Client: When we asked Jim about the types of stories that he’s looking for, he said stories that include Colorado stereotypes: marijuana, skiing, the Rocky Mountains, Western life/cowboys. These are topics that tell the rest of the world what’s going on in Colorado, and there’s a particular interest in Asia for news about our state.

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