In the public relations courses that I’ve taught over the years, it seems as though one of the biggest struggles for the students is writing using Associated Press style.
Why is learning AP style so important? PR practitioner Sandra Hernandez offers this:
PR writers really need to know the things that make them effective. I learned to write in AP in college, because it was necessary to pass the class. I continued to write in AP because I found that what I send to media had a better response rate when written in AP.
To help students learn more about AP style, I sought feedback from a variety of public relations practitioners and faculty members, trying to come up with a list of what PR writers REALLY need to know (cold, without even looking in the AP Stylebook) about AP style.
The most helpful advice came from colleagues on PR OpenMic, a social network for PR students, faculty and practitioners. (See the individual responses I received in the PR OpenMic PR Writing Discussion Forum.) Additional helpful advice came from colleagues on Twitter, including Kristie Aylett and Claire Celsi.
The most important (and sometimes confusing) parts of AP Style for PR writers are:
- dates (especially when to abbreviate)
- addresses (especially when to abbreviate)
- names (when to use titles, etc.)
- numerals (when to spell out, when to use digits)
- datelines (which cities need to be identified with their states)
Many PR writers can also benefit from brushing up on standard grammar. My favorite site for general grammar advice is Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl. Consider subscribing to Grammar Girl’s podcast through iTunes.
So, PR pros and journalists, what would you add? What can help PR students understand what they REALLY need to know about AP style?
Tonight on Twitter, I saw a tweet from Milton Ramirez that pointed me to this presentation by Arun Basil Lal. Arun has some great tips here on writing good blog posts. The most useful information specifically about writing starts on slide 11.
It’s worth reading. Soon.
Our One Week of Twitter assignment begins on Thursday, January 28, and will end at midnight on February 4. Your blog post about this experience is due before class on February 9. It will count as your Topic of the Week for Week Five.
Setting Up Your Twitter Account
- Go to Twitter. Click Get Started, and sign up. I prefer it if you use some version of your first and last name as your Twitter ID. (Avoid putting numbers in your Twitter ID, or you may appear like a spammer.)
- Upload a photo or avatar.
- Write a brief (140-character or fewer) bio. It’s good to mention that you’re a PR student.
- Send a tweet saying “I’m a student in @barbaranixon’s #COMM2322 class”. Be sure to include the #COMM2322 indicator, with no spaces between the hashtag (#), letters and numbers.
- If you haven’t already done so, complete my form that tells me your Twitter username.
Setting Up Your Following List
- While you are logged into your Twitter account, visit my Twitter List for COMM 2322. Everyone you see in this list will be classmates of yours at Southeastern University.
- Click the “Follow This List” icon just above the list. Voila! Now you are following the list. To easily/quickly follow your classmates as individuals, see my TweepML list.
- Follow at least 20 (why not all?) of the people or organizations in my Twitter Starter Pack for PR Students.
- Over the course of the next week, send at least twenty tweets (Twitter messages of 140 characters or less). Tip: Rather than tweeting that you’re having ramen for lunch, instead consider what might be of interest to your classmates and followers. Perhaps point others to something interesting or funny you read online. Share a fact you learned in a class. Maybe you could even pose a question that you’d like others to answer.
- Review my tips on how college students can use Twitter to their advantage and Choosing Whom to Follow on Twitter: My Strategy.
- Review Prof. Sam Bradley’s College Student’s Guide: Twitter 101.
- I find using the web interface for Twitter to be clunky. I prefer using TweetDeck, a free Adobe Air app that works great on PCs and Macs.
- I’ll occasionally post information on Twitter and use the hashtag of #COMM2322. By using this hashtag, I’m indicating that I want students in this class to pay special attention to the tweet.
- OPTIONAL: If you’d like to publicize your blog posts via Twitter, you can it automatically in WordPress.
Blog About Your Experience
After the week is over, add a 250-word (minimum) post to your blog about the experience and what you got out of it. Be sure to include at least one way you might find value in continuing your account in Twitter. This blog post is due before class on February 9. (This post will count as your Topic of the Week.)
Questions? Just send me a DM (direct message) or an @ (reply) in Twitter!
Students this semester, especially but not exclusively those in my online classes, are asking questions. That’s a good thing. It means they’re engaging.
However, they are questions that would be easily answered without asking me directly if they’d do two simple things before asking:
- Read the information I write for them (through e-mail, on my blog and in BlackBoard/GeorgiaVIEW)
- Listen to what I tell them (face-to-face, or in synchronous sessions or recorded and posted either on my blog or in BlackBoard/GeorgiaVIEW)
In at least 75% of the cases (and I really am tracking it this semester), the questions that they’re asking have already been addressed. Clarification questions? I welcome those. But basic questions like “how do I know what I’m supposed to include in my blog?” Those are a horse of a different color.
There. Now I can step off my soapbox and get back to helping my students become independent learners.
(NOTE: Ever wonder where the expression “on a soapbox” came from? Wikipedia to the rescue.)
Cross-posted from my Becoming Learner Centered blog.
Blogging is like gardening. Though it may be easy to start a blog, you must nurture (“feed” and “water”) it often for it to flourish. (Many thanks to Michael Willits for help with the analogy!)
If you are in one of my public relations classes this semester, please complete the appropriate checklist to see if your blog meets the expectations for the end of January:
- PRCA 3711/4711 (and if you’re in PRCA 3711/4711 AND another class, please fill out this form for Practicum and also the other form below).
- All other PR classes: COMM 2322, COMM 4333, PRCA 3030 and/or PRCA 3330
These checklists are designed to help you. I will start reviewing your blogs late this weekend.
Questions? As always,
Take about an hour and watch “Twitter for Business,” a webinar led by Laura Fitton (author of Twitter for Dummies.) This webinar is part of Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University, a series of 16 talks by people prominent in the social media space.
The slides from the presentation are below, in case you want to see them before you listen to the webinar; the slides are shown along with the audio in the webinar, however. (This means, if you want the audio, you’ll need to listen to the webinar, not just click through the slides below.)
If you are a student in one of my classes this semester, please let me know your Twitter username using the form below. Fill this out even if you know that I am already following you.
Want to see what my PRCA 3330 (PR Writing) students at Georgia Southern University are blogging? They’ve been assigned to create & maintain a blog using these guidelines. Most of them just started with their blogs this week; content will be added throughout the semester, so if there’s not much there yet, just wait . . . there will be plenty in a few weeks!