If I’ve been slow to write about this it’s because, like many, I have been in denial. AP, say it isn’t so!
Last month the Associated Press announced new to the Stylebook in 2014: over, as well as more than, is acceptable in all uses to indicate greater numerical value.
For those who never really understood the difference in the first place, over generally refers to spatial relationships: The mirror hangs over the mantel.
More than is used to indicate greater numerical value: More than 200 people attended the rally. We raised more than $500.
So after many years of editing my co-workers writing from “over” to “more than,” I can no longer stand on my AP soapbox although I will continue to have a clear preference.
I thought I’d see what else AP has done to us – oops, I mean clarified – lately. Here are a few tips from AP’s editors that are helpful as we await the spring release of the 2014 Stylebook to see what other changes AP has in store for us.
Use of “under” to signify less
Interestingly, prior to the over v. more than decision referenced above, under was already acceptable in certain numerical uses: The tank holds a little under 15 gallons. They offer free admissions for children 12 and under.
Use of a hyphen
No hyphen in nonprofit
No hyphen in whistleblower
No hyphen used with multi: multiline, multichannel
No hyphen when used with goer: moviegoer (This is a reported change coming in the 2014 Stylebook)
Expressing numerical ranges
They have a joint income of $70,000 to $75,000 a year.
The industry generates revenues of $4 million to $5 million a year.
Our nation’s capital
Use capital in referring to the city where a seat of government is located.
Capitalize U.S. Capitol (with an “o”) and the Capitol when referring to the building in Washington.
When referencing Washington, D.C., on second reference capitalize the District.
Medical terms (also reported to be coming with the 2014 Stylebook)
First aid for the noun, first-aid for the adjective: He administered first aid. I took a first-aid course.
HPV is acceptable on first reference for human papillomavirus
Lowercase: in vitro fertilization (IVF acceptable on second reference)
Use of a comma before “as well as”
No comma in an adverb construction: The boy played the guitar as well as his teacher.
Comma when used to mean in addition to: He cleaned out the closet, as well as the cabinets.
Are you an AP Stylebook nerd, too? What’s your favorite or least favorite AP guidance? And for more updates as they’re announced, follow @APStylebook.
The buzzword native advertising came on the scene a few years ago but didn’t really gain traction until last year when it began being thought of as the savior to publishing. It’s now one of the hottest things in the online advertising industry. Sorry banner ads, you aren’t what you used to be.
I don’t usually like to use Wikipedia as a source but honestly, it has the best definition for native advertising. It defines it as–an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.
Native ads provide valuable, relevant content and, to some readers, might appear like real editorial. Content marketing, a more commonly used term, is a form of native advertising.
A study conducted among more than 4,700 people last year found that native ads were viewed 53 percent more often by consumers than banner ads, and the attention people paid to native ads was nearly equivalent to the visual engagement of original editorial content.
So, are popular well-respected publications jumping on the native advertising bandwagon? The answer is YES.
Forbes Magazine created BrandVoice, described by one of its reporters as an innovative, efficient publishing platform, or brand newsroom, that is built on the belief that all content can be treated equally if its originating source is transparently identified. The reason for the formation of BrandVoice was the notion that marketers know their business better than anyone and they need new ways to reach their audiences. Statistics show that some of the native ad posts on Forbes.com are generating considerable more views, tweets, retweets and Likes than traditional editorial content. An effective revenue stream for publishers and a successful tool for advertisers…win-win.
Just like Forbes’ BrandVoice, the Washington Post created the platform BrandConnect to connect its advertisers with its readership, and earlier this month the Wall Street Journal launched its own native ad studio called WSJ Custom Studios.
You can scroll through the home page of most of the publications I listed and you will find an example of native ads. See one example below.
As long as publications and other online sources are transparent about native ads versus original content, I think it’s an incredibly effective use of ad dollars. What are your thoughts?
Last month The Washington Post released a list of 150 “verbal crutches, stock phrases, filler words, clichés and perpetually misused expressions” that the writers of its Sunday Outlook section try to avoid.
For professional communicators who — like our team at Lovell — spend a lot of time writing, the list of “Things We Do Not Say” is a good reminder of what lazy writing can look and the importance of choosing clear, descriptive words and phrases.
Here are a few of my favorite offenders from the list:
- Be that as it may
- Needless to say
- Begs the question
- At the end of the day
- The new normal
- Raised questions
- Poster child
To read the full list, visit the Washington Post story at this link. Additionally, the Oxford Dictionaries “Language matters” blog provides a list of common clichés, as well as tips for eradicating them from your writing.
What clichés do you dislike the most? Tell us about it in the comments section.
The Nashville Health Care Council has closed the book on another highly successful Leadership Health Care Delegation to Washington, D.C. The NashvillePost, as always, did a great job of covering highlights of the Delegates’ discussions with numerous elected representatives, business leaders, regulatory officials and ‘inside the beltway’ journalists with whom the group met.
Our firm was delighted to serve as a sponsor of the trip for the third consecutive year. We couldn’t help but notice mood in D.C. was similar to the weather: partly cloudy and predicted to stay that way. Though several speakers expressed optimism about the bi-partisan, bi-cameral agreement reached regarding the Sustainable Growth Rate, everyone acknowledged that getting it paid for will be another tough climb. There’s not much optimism – or much fun – in our nation’s Capitol, these days.
In addition to the key takeaways reported in the Post, I found a few other items worth noting:
- Kentucky Senator Rand Paul declared that independent physician practice is essentially “over.” Administrative and regulatory requirements are too onerous and margins are too slim for private physicians to maintain their own small businesses.
- Paul also opined that the political mix in DC – even after the mid-term elections later this year – makes repeal of the Accountable Care Act unlikely.
- A representative from the American Hospital Association predicted that some hospitals will inevitably close as providers continue to consolidate – though he was quick to dispel the myth that a handful of “super systems” will take over the industry in the next five to 10 years.
- Personalized medicine and gene-based therapies and diagnostics will become increasingly relevant and commercially available. That would be good news for companies like 23andme, the genetic testing company whose health-related genetic testing services were effectively shuttered by the FDA last November.
And as a professional communicator, I was struck by how many of the Delegation’s discussions circled (if peripherally) on the topic of communications. The need to educate the newly insured on how to access care. The need to make healthcare quality and cost data not only transparent, but understandable. And the perennial need for both systems and individuals to connect – virtually and personally – to better share data with the end-goal of improving patient care and enhancing the patient experience.
If ever there was a time when healthcare communicators could make a difference in our society, I’m optimistic the time is now!
Companies often find themselves in situations where they are not in a position to make public statements, and the challenge is always how do you say, “No comment,” without saying, “No comment?” PR consultants, who focus on corporate and brand reputation, and lawyers, who focus on corporate legal exposure, often give conflicting advice. Lawyers like, “No comment.” The non-commitment that comes from that statement makes their job so much easier. “No comment,” however, does not make the story go away. Those two words actually say, “I know a lot; I’m just not going to tell you!”
“No comment” encourages the journalist to go around management to find an answer to the question from other sources. That answer from other sources is frequently inaccurate, and it can not only generate misinformation about the company, but it can also fuel further damaging speculation. In constructing a response when you are prohibited from providing substantive information, consider the following scenarios:
1) Speculative questions: Sometimes rumors circulate on a very low level. These rumors can relate to a potential IPO, financial transactions like a merger or acquisition, or a new technology or product the company is developing. Rumors abound, and it is reasonable that companies cannot speak to every issue raised by a journalist. Management can often deflect these questions by saying, “As a matter of corporate policy, we do not comment on rumor or speculation in the market.”
2) Persistent rumors: Rumors, good or bad, can grow and take on a life of their own. Investors can trade on recurring rumors, or consumers may make purchasing decisions about a company’s products based on rumors. Once rumors begin to influence the media’s coverage and perception of the company, management needs to contain the issue as quickly as possible. If the company needs more time to address the rumor completely, acknowledge the issue when asked by a journalist and give a realistic timeframe when the company can provide more clarity and details. Be committed to your timeframe, and contact the journalist in a timely manner.
3) Crisis: Occasionally, the media will have the story before you do. You may not have complete information to give. In this situation, provide as much accurate information as you can, even as limited as it may be; explain how the company is addressing the situation; and provide a timeframe to get back to the journalist with more information.
Any “No comment” response should show respect to the reporter asking the question. Sometimes you will just not be able to discuss a matter in public, but if you explain the reasons why that is so, you enhance your credibility with both the media and your company stakeholders. If management demonstrates a willingness to work with the media on providing timely and accurate information, journalists will more likely respond in a reasonable fashion.