AP Style Smackdown

I’m really angry at @APStyle.
I know that’s not a sentence often written.AP2
But it’s true.

I tweeted a question @APStyle several weeks back that came up in one of my classes. The question was whether certain pairs of words, such as public relations and event planning, would require hyphenation as a compound modifier if preceding a noun. A burning question, I know. But in my Strategic PR Communication class, this actually comes up quite a bit.

I believe the answer is no. But I wanted some reinforcement and a better way to explain it to my students. So I tweeted @APStyle with little hope of reply. But a reply did come: “Great question. I shall direct you to the@AP or @APStyle for the answer.”

I would screenshot this exchange, but I’m afraid of starting a viral war a la Jay Z-Beyonce-Solange. That could happen, you know. AP aficionados are fierce. Check out this example I shared with my students.

But I digress. The reply angered me because if I knew the answer I wouldn’t have asked the question. I am the queen of figuring out where and why and how the AP Stylebook works. West Coast: capitals or not? Why, check under regions and directions, naturally.

And I approach teaching AP Style with what I hope is effective: sarcasm. (I also employ some other more pedagogical strategies to encourage knowledge creation and deep learning, but that’s for another time.) I could harangue students about how useful AP Style is and why it’s necessary for journalists and PR professionals. But instead, I recognize that it seems arcane, foreign, intimidating and silly to 20-somethings. So I do a lot of joking. And students do a lot of learning.

One PR student wrote last term that she learned more about AP Style than she ever thought possible.
When I gave a quiz that included an excerpt from The Washington Post in my Reporting I class two weeks ago , most of the class caught a style error the paper made that I never even noticed.

So what I’m trying to say is that I feel a little crushed. I’ve valiantly championed the cause of AP and all I got was this lousy tweet.

But in a few hours, once my ire subsides, I know I’ll start laughing, or at least smirking. Because the AP Style editor’s response was pretty much what I tell students when they ask me similar questions. I say:

“Who has an AP Stylebook? Let’s find the answer.”

(On a side note, I swear I read more than just The New York Times. But the Grey Lady just had too many relevant articles for this week’s insPiRation.)

Fashion & corporate social responsibility…
There’s Something You Don’t Know About the World of Eco-Fashion (Elephant Journal)
Lots of interesting points about fashion and corporate social responsibility from the founder of Seamly.co. What does “sustainable fashion” mean to you, to fashion brands and to consumers?

Writing & Self-editing…
The Joys of Trimming (The New York Times)
Do you trim your own writing vigorously enough? If not, how might you work to improve your writing? When you do trim, how does it make you feel?

Tourism & PR…
Egyptian Tourism Message to the World: Come Anyway (The New York Times)
What do you think about Egypt’s tourism PR strategy in the wake of years of political unrest?

Music…image management… branding…
An Apple Deal May Make Dr. Dre the ‘First Billionaire in Hip-Hop’. It’s a Bittersweet Victory. (The Washington Post)
Do you agree with this commentator? Whether you do or don’t, what are the PR opportunities and risks when musicians move from making music to making waves in the music business?

How to Find a Job at Nike, Adidas, Columbia, or Intel in Portland (Macslist.org)
Great advice. I know a lot of you are into sports and fitness and/or are from Portland. So, have you or do you plan to try any of these ideas?

Fashion & global health…
A Charity’s Video Shows Models Duped for a Cause (The New York Times)
Good PR strategy or not?

Hashtag activism & foreign policy…
First Lady Condemns Abduction of Nigerian School Girls (The New York Times)
What does it say about the place of social media in our world when Michelle Obama chooses Twitter to make a “rare venture into foreign policy”?

Gender stereotyping… social media…marketing…
Amid the Mother’s Day Marketing Blitz, A Look at an Ignored Demographic Gold Mine: The ‘Others’ (Forbes)
Really interesting data and analysis.  How could companies use the suggested messages and social media to reach this important group? Why do smart companies fall for gender stereotypes? Why is PR research important?

Food & social media…
A.1. Steak Sauce ‘Breaks Up’ with Its Brand and Gets a #PRWin (PRNewser)
How are changing eating habits changing brands, their promotion, and so on?

Sports & social media & image management…
Marshall Henderson: ‘Tweet’ Research (ESPN.com)
How did Marshall Henderson’s “research” impact his brand? Do you think it was actually research or just backpedaling to protect his image – and did it work? Also, should athletes feel free to express their true opinions on social media or not?

Tourism…image management…
Island Fixer-Upper, Near the Madding Crowd (The New York Times)
How does the reality of Venice for its residents conflict with its public image? Do most famous places have their own “anti-Venice”? Should places like Poveglia be developed for tourism or become a “refuge from the onslaught of tourists”?

Music & the Internet…
When Music Was Strange (The New York Times)
Comment on this opinion writer’s point of how the Internet is changing how we learn about music, sometimes for the worse. Do you agree or disagree?

Sports & social media…
Which Team Do You Cheer For? An NBA Fan Map (The New York Times)
A fun and interesting look at NBA fandom based on Facebook likes. Is this an accurate way to measure fans? Should teams/brands pay attention to this?

Music… social media…image management…
Let the Memes Begin: Jay Z, Beyonce and Solange Clip Spawns Reaction (Los Angeles Times)
A hilarious, yet cringe-worthy look at Twitter and celebrities. What does this type of reaction mean for celebrities/musicians and their image management? Should Beyonce/Jay Z/Solange respond? How would you feel it your every foible were subject to possible mockery on Twitter? (Side note: thank you to a Reporting I student for bringing this story to my attention.)

Nutrition/food & marketing…
All Sugared Up: The Best and Worst Breakfast Cereals for Kids (Forbes)
The Sticky Methods of Marketing Cereal to Kids (Forbes)
The author says: “And don’t be swayed by clever packaging: Claims of high vitamin and nutrient content can often distract from high sugar content.” So what responsibilities for food companies have to to be more transparent in their marketing? Should companies care about childhood obesity? If so, might it be a CSR/PR strategy? And what do you think about current marketing strategies?

Industries (beverage… food… movies) & consumers & tech…
Pepsi Challenges Coke in the Race to Design a More Tappable Soda Fountain (The New York Times)
Gee whiz, what will they think of next? What are the PR opportunities and challenges of over-sized tablets as soda fountains for any of these industries?


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