By Kimberly Cook 

Maybe you’ve read David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Maybe you haven’t. That doesn’t really matter (But you should because it’s a great book!)—the book title is just a good jumping-off point for this entry.

Me talk pretty one day. Me write good one day. But if you’re in PR, you need to start speaking clearly and writing well TODAY.

Whether you were born with a flair for writing or you struggle with each word as if drawing out a hieroglyph, there is one sure-fire, easy-to-use tool that makes all the difference in the world of PR writing: the AP Stylebook.

[The heavens open and the choir sings.]

The average person reading a press release that got picked up in the local paper is not likely to know the difference between writing Dec. 28 and December 28, Nasdaq and NASDAQ, canceled and cancelled. They likely wouldn’t think twice when coming across any of those examples in their reading—because they’re all correct. The only difference is AP style.

So, why bother? Why bother conforming to style guidelines that few readers will even recognize? Because the journalists you send your releases to do know the rules and they can tell the difference. If you’ve made their lives easier by giving them material already written in AP style, your story is much more likely to get picked up than the same story not written in AP style. While your target audience is the media consumer, e.g., the newspaper reader, you’ve got to go through the journalists first.

Is it tedious and boring? (Not for me, I eat, breathe and sleep this book.) Maybe. But it’s not hard. And it does matter. So when you’re writing, take the extra 20 seconds to leaf through your AP Stylebook and check what you’re writing. Knowing whether it’s a nonprofit organization or a non-profit organization could mean the difference between getting media coverage for your client or not.