Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mistakes that wreck credibility with journalists

Journalists use a very specific writing style. Errors will wreck your credibility.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes people make and how to fix them:

First references always include the title. Obama may be used in a headline, but not in copy. The first reference is "President Obama".

Everyone else needs their full name and complete title: “Rachel Iskow, Sacramento|Yolo Mutual Housing Association Executive Director”.

Another example: “Mary Smith, a Sacramento resident”. The explanation depends on the subject of the story.

After that, use “Iskow”, “Smith” or ”S|YMHA”.

Description: For nonprofits and companies, you also need a sentence that explains what it does. Keep your audience in mind, however.

For trade journals, S|YMHA would be “a multifamily developer”. For mainstream media, it would be “an affordable housing developer” or “a housing developer for modest-income families.”

The most common mistakes are errors of upper and lower case. Use lower case for everything after the first reference: The “executive director” or “the nonprofit”.

Two other common errors:

“Over and “under” are for objects; “more than” and “less than” are for numbers.

“Last” is for the final one. “Past” is for this past week.

If in doubt, use the Associated Press Stylebook.

For more information, call Dell Richards Publicity at (916) 455-4790 or visit us at www.dellrichards.com.