Every press release starts with the location and the date of the news story contained within. But did you know that there are several dateline formats for press releases?
However, choosing the right format is important as you don’t want there to be any confusion as to the accuracy and newsworthiness of the article.
That said, while the AP Style approach is the main choice for both printed and digital media, The New York Times looks to improve it.
Keep on reading to see how both these formats differ.
What Is a Dateline?
One key component that sets the tone for the entire release is the dateline. After all, a well-crafted dateline press release not only conveys the “when” and “where” of the story but also adds credibility and professionalism to your announcement.
Readers want to consume real and current news, and a properly written dateline immediately informs them whether or not that is the case.
Dateline Press Release Formats
There isn’t a fixed number of dateline formats for a press release, as the style may vary depending on your organization’s preference or the style guide you follow. However, we made an effort to provide you with the most relevant ones.
1. AP Style
As the foremost authority on news and PR writing across the U.S., the Associated Press Style also prescribes a specific way of crafting datelines, which is an evolution of the centuries-old newspaper dateline format that uses capital letters for the location:
- Write the city name in all CAPITAL letters;
- Write the AP Style state abbreviation (different from postal ones);
- Eight state names are spelled out fully, including the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and Utah.
- Write the abbreviated publication date in brackets, e.g. (Oct. 17, 2023).
- Write the specific publication time in the ‘a.m./p.m.’ format;
- Write the timezone, e.g. 10 a.m. PT.
If we apply the above rules in a story example taking place in Las Vegas, for instance, we will get the following dateline: LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Oct. 17, 2023, 10 a.m. PT). After this essential information, just add a dash and start writing the first paragraph.
This is how the dateline looks like per AP style rules:
2. The New York Times Style
The New York Times has decided to blend its dateline with the byline in recent years in an effort to clarify the location of the reporters, the story, and the publication and boost the credibility of its reporting efforts.
For instance, instead of writing “LOS ANGELES, Calif.” followed by the date (as shown above), NYT reporters would simply start the article with “Reporting from Los Angeles…”. That way, the newspaper clears any doubt that it has reporters on the ground. After all, readers are not always certain whether the location describes the story or the reporter.
Additionally, The New York Times editors suggest reporters can implement various levels of detail when comprising the new dateline/byline hybrid, ranging from the plain (default) byline to the full and enhanced byline that also provides the location and date.
Note: While this new approach is reserved for digital media, the traditional dateline format will continue to be used in The New York Times printed newspapers.
Check out an example of the new New York Times approach:
Mastering the different dateline press release formats is a crucial step for any PR manager since they must ensure that the press releases are professional, consistent, and easy to understand for journalists and readers alike. Moreover, adhering to the standard formats will increase the chances of the press release being picked up by additional media outlets, thus increasing its overall reach and impact.