How can Twitter’s 140 character missives, and pithy Snapchat highlights get translated into our everyday writing as communicators?
Every time I reach for my AP Style Book, I am reminded of a college journalism professor who left her mark on me for a couple of reasons: First, we had weekly quizzes on the AP Style Book, which was a great way to learn and practice the rules. And if you weren’t sure there was a rule, at least we all learned to use the book to see if a rule existed.
Second, she was a stickler for writing in the simplest terms, using concise, action words and cutting out fat from our writing. Following is a list of words or phrases that should be eliminated from our writing, along with a suitable replacement word. Just like Bitly and Tiny URL help us shorten URLs for social media, this list can help tighten all of our writing. What are some of your favorite words or phrases that can be omitted and replaced with a single word?
In today’s 140-character world, does AP Style still matter and why should I care? It depends who you ask. The truth is, AP Style does matter and is the standard in the U.S. if you’re a journalist, writer or work in public relations and marketing communications. If you’re not familiar with the AP Stylebook, it’s a “reference for writers, editors, students and professionals. It provides fundamental guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.”
While the AP Stylebook has been around since 1953, each June it releases a new printed edition and is available online for an annual subscription. For longtime AP Style followers, sometimes the updates make you crazy, like now that it’s acceptable to use “over” as a synonym for “more than” i.e. “She earns over $30 million a year” versus the old way “She earns more than $30 million a year.” It’s just as important for longtime users to stay up on the changes as it is for new writers to become intimately familiar with the guidelines.
A recent presentation to a group of juniors and seniors at Colorado Christian University reminded me of the critical skills that public relations professionals must have:
Relationships with media and pitching
Expertise with social media channels to communicate with target audiences
Understanding of the client’s business
I told this class of eager, young students that being a strong writer is as important today as it ever was, and it’s the one skill that will make the difference in getting a job interview or not. The best way to become better at it is to write every day – whether it’s your own blog, a journal, or volunteering to write for a nonprofit organization. The key is to do it.