Press Release Format (AP Style) - A Comprehensive Guide

ByDanica Jovic
March 01,2022

Writing press releases is not as easy as you might think, especially if you want to do it while following the Associated Press (AP) guidelines. There are lots of things to be aware of, from punctuation to the text formatting and creating a short “about you” paragraph (boilerplate). You also need to think about your audience - not only journalists and editors but also people interested in your company’s services or products. Therefore, before you even start writing the news about your company, be sure to know how to do it properly. We are here to help you write a press release format in AP style, but before we do that, here’s a short introduction to the AP writing style

What is AP Style Writing?

AP style is a writing style for journalists, magazines, and news set by the Associated Press news agency. Although some magazines (like New York Times) have their own publishing styles, AP style is considered an essential guide for journalists and editors or anyone else who wants to publish news. Like other style guidelines, AP style ensures that articles are formatted uniformly, regardless of who writes them. AP style writing rules are published in the AP stylebook. In this book, you can see the standards for text presentation, including news and press releases. 

A press release using AP style includes numerous rules, and we are going to explain the most important ones here: 

Serial Comma 

Unlike Oxford style, AP style doesn’t allow the use of the serial comma. That means that the comma in AP style doesn't go after the last item in a list. The usage of commas is often a matter of style, but if you write magazine articles and news, AP style requires you to follow this rule. 

Punctuation

Don’t use a double space after a period if you write following the Associated Press writing style. The style requires a one-space rule after a period. 

Numbers

It might be easy to forget, so always check how you write numbers in articles formatted using the AP style. According to the Associated Press style guide, numbers between one and nine must be spelled, and you can use numerals past the number ten (10). By following the AP style, time should be written in numbers instead of words. For example, you should write “3 p.m.” instead of “three o’clock in the afternoon.”

Dates

When it comes to dates, there are a few rules to memorize. Firstly, you should use numbers to write dates. Secondly, the abbreviation applies only for months that are more than five letters long. 

Fonts

We know that there are a lot of attractive fonts to use but stick to standard ones. Editors will not be impressed with this type of experiment, especially if they follow standard AP style rules. Times New Roman is the standard font that you should use. AP style press release format sets the rules for font size too. The font size is also standardized and can be one point apart in size. If your headline is 14, the subheadings should be 13. The body of your text would then be size 12.

Perspective

Never use a first-person perspective in your article; you are a journalist, not a bard. AP style requires news and articles written in third-person only. 

Capitalization

AP style headline capitalization means that all headlines and subheadings have to be written in the title case. 

How to write an AP style press release

Before starting to write a press release, make sure that you know five W’s or five questions all journalists must be able to answer. These questions are the core of any news piece, and if you know how to ask and answer them, you may rest assured that you are providing adequate information to your audience. The answers to these questions summarize what your piece is about, and you should answer them in the first paragraph of the text. After that, you can add details to flesh out your press release. 

These are the questions to answer: 

Who is involved

The answer should include information about the topic of the article. When writing news, writers should establish the subject (individual, company), and if it’s a press release, it should be about the company doing the press release.

What happened?

Explain what the piece is about briefly. For example, if your business is launching a new product, write about it. 

When did it happen?

AP press news should provide information about the timing of the event - when did the event you are writing about happen, or when will it happen?

Where did it happen?

As with time, readers should be told where the event that’s talked about is happening/has happened/will happen.

Why did it happen?

It is a straightforward question, but sometimes it can be challenging to answer. You need to explain why your news is important for your readers. 

Answer these questions briefly but accurately so your audience will get all the necessary information in the first paragraph. It is important to be short and direct in this first paragraph because many readers won’t read the rest of the article. 

Identify Your Audience 

Another thing you need to do is identify who your AP press release readers are. Once you find out who your target audience is (that means not only editors and journalists but your customers or followers), you need to find a way to grab their attention. See what your readers are interested in, what their values are, what businesses they trust. You also need to research the demographic of your audience, including their age, gender, location, etc. 

As you can see, creating a press release involves more than just getting the press release formatting right. For this reason, many businesses use press release distribution services. Aside from disseminating your news through the most popular media outlets, press release distribution companies will create and edit your press release, too.

Provide Press Release Instructions 

Your AP style news release should include the time and date when you want your news to be published. If your story is ready for publishing, type the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” On the other hand, if you have an embargoed press release (a release that is not ready for immediate publishing),  write  “EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL,” followed by the time and date when you want it published.

Include Contact Information 

When it comes to formatting a press release, don’t forget to include the contact details (name, phone number, email address) of the person who can provide more information about the press release content. Write your AP style press release dateline in the top left corner of the press release. 

Write the Press Release Headline

The next thing you need to do is to write a headline. The press release headline is positioned at the top center of the page, and it shouldn't be more than 80 characters long. It has to be eye-catchy to grab the readers’ attention. The subhead is located below the headline. It can be longer than the headline and may include up to 120 characters that explain the content in your headline.

Both the AP headline and subhead should include keywords that boost the visibility of your press release. There are also other things that you can do when writing an Associated Press style press release headline. For example, you can search for a story already in the news and connect it with your piece somehow. This practice is also called “newsjacking.” Our advice is to use the present tense when you write the headline. It will attract your readers if the headline is exciting and catchy-sounding.   

The Lead 

The lead has to be short and to the point but still interesting. It’s the first paragraph of your press release, and it should be at least 60 characters long. You should also add the date when you want your press release to go live and the location your release originates from. This is an example of the date and location information for the press release (format AP)

Phoenix, Ariz. (October 20, 2021) 

The date and location have to be bolded, and you need to use AP style for the state abbreviation. 

The lead is the first thing journalists will read, so it has to summarize the most important things about the news you want to share. In this part of your press release, you need to answer the five W’s.

Write Your Boilerplate

The boilerplate or the “about” section is another important part of the standard press release format. It’s placed at the bottom of the statement and includes information about your business, such as your company history and values, awards, further plans, and anything else that is relevant for your audience. If you follow the AP format for the press release, this section shouldn’t be longer than 100 words. For example, if your business offers legal services, the boilerplate should talk about your company’s years in business, awards, and any of the company’s accomplishments.    

Choose the Media Outlets That You Want to Send Your Press Release 

After you finish your press release creation, you need to decide where you want to send it. You will be in a position to choose among hundreds of media outlets, and sometimes it can be really difficult to decide where to publish the press release in AP style. You should choose wisely because media outlets receive hundreds of press releases daily, and not all of them will publish yours. Also, pick those media outlets that target your audience. For example, if you’re opening a pet-friendly restaurant, send your press release to food and beverage and pet magazines. 

Choose How You Want to Distribute Your Press Release 

The distribution of your press releases is the next step after you format them in accordance with the AP style. There are several ways to spread the AP press release. For example, you can send the press release to journalists, bloggers, and influencers with whom you are already connected. Aside from the direct outreach, you can send the news to numerous media outlets to get wider media exposure. To do this, you will need to use press release distribution services. Alternatively, you can try to send your press release to journals and magazines on your own, but there’s no guarantee that they will publish it.

It’s always a good idea to publish your press release on your website. This will increase the overall visibility of your company. Some website creators offer the option to add the press release page and publish the AP press release format with a few simple clicks. Also, don’t forget to share your media statement on social media channels so your followers can see it.

FAQ
Do press releases use AP style?

Generally, press releases should be written per the AP style guidelines. Media outlets and editors will not publish your press release if it doesn’t follow the rules set by Associated Press. Even though some newspapers created their own rules for publishing articles, like The New York Times, every journalist should be familiar with the AP style.

How do you write a press release in AP format?

If you want to craft the press release and format it AP style, there’s a stylebook published by Associated Press that you can download on the internet. The book is regularly updated, so make sure that you always have the newest version when writing your press release. The book sets the criteria for any text you want to write, including text formation criteria, punctuation rules, and grammar rules. 

What is AP style press release?

An AP style press release is a press release or statement for the media written in accordance with the Associated Press style guide book. Every year, AP publishes the stylebook that becomes available for journalists, editors, and writers. The book contains everything you need to know about the AP style paper format - from technical things like formatting the text to grammar and style rules.

Why is AP style important?

There are various style guidelines, but if you want to work in print media, it is essential to know the AP style guide. It’s a widely accepted style guide that sets the rules for formatting press and news releases. Usually, editors will not accept a story that doesn’t meet the AP style guide rules, except if the magazine you want to publish your article in uses another style guide. For example, The Guardian, New York Times, and BBC all have their style guides.

How do you format a press release?

It’s best to use the AP style for press releases. AP’s style guide is the most commonly used document for news and journal articles that businesses use to publish some news about the company’s services, an event, or a new product. The AP stylebook contains all you need to know about press release formatting - from creating the body of your press release to which grammar rule to follow. Of course, if you find press release creation to be stressful or time-consuming, you can delegate it to press release distribution companies. Many of them provide complete press release writing and editing services and can help you craft a press release format in AP style.

How long should a press release be?

Generally, a press release shouldn’t be too long. An ideal length is between 300 and 400 words, which is enough to inform your audience about everything they need to know.

About the author

Danica’s greatest passion is writing. From small businesses, tech, and digital marketing, to academic folklore analysis, movie reviews, and anthropology — she’s done it all. A literature major with a passion for business, software, and fun new gadgets, she has turned her writing craft into a profitable blogging business. When she’s not writing for SmallBizGenius, Danica enjoys hiking, trying to perfect her burger-making skills, and dreaming about vacations in Greece.

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In eCommerce, fast delivery is essential, because ensuring customers receive their orders on time will undoubtedly help your fledgling eCommerce business gain a good reputation, new customers, and more sales. If you are looking for a metric you can improve to appease your client base, look no further than your eCommerce’s transit times. Let’s discuss all you need to know about them and how they can be improved to gain some happy customers and stand out from the competition. What Are Transit Times in Shipping? In shipping, transit is the length of time it takes the courier to deliver the order to your customer's doorstep. It starts when they pick up the order and ends when it arrives at the final destination. ECommerce transit times vary depending on multiple factors and can take up a few hours to several months. However, according to the 2020 statistics from ShipStation's Last Touch, Lasting Impact ebook, users expect to have their packages arrive within eight days. It is safe to say that the participants were being generous about it and that they actually expected their packages to get to them within five days at most. The Benefits of Fast Transit Times It boils down to this: ECommerce success is all about convenience. For example, eCommerce statistics show that 28% of shoppers abandon their cart if the store requires them to make an account. Every eCommerce business owner should prioritize convenience when planning their business, and fast ​​delivery of products to customers plays a key role there. Being able to meet, if not top, your customers’ expectations is essential for your business. 85% of consumers will abandon the cart in search of faster shipping options, and an extra day of delivery can make or break the deal. Therefore, fast shipping leads to higher conversion rates, which every business needs. Considering the percentage of customers you could be losing, taking the time to improve the transit times in shipping will undoubtedly pay off. What Factors Play Into Transit Times? Several factors affect transit times. Some of them you can work on; others might be above your pay grade and will require a plan B. Here are some of them: Service Level Often, service levels can be the most crucial factor to consider when figuring out how to deliver ordered products. Ground shipping is usually the cheapest option and can take a few days longer to arrive than other shipping methods. However, with ground product shipping services, you can provide lower prices and even free shipping to your customers without affecting your margin. Flat-rate shipping costs the same regardless of how much you order and is a good option if you want to make it affordable for your customers to purchase a lot from the same place. Freight shipping is usually the most expensive but can be faster than ground shipping. If you want to provide next-day shipping, you might consider this option. International shipping can take even longer than ground shipping and may have additional costs like customs fees. However, this is frequently the only option for dropshippers to deliver goods crafted abroad to their customers. Destination Zone The destination zone can play a crucial role in eCommerce transit times. For example, sending something to a rural area may take longer because the infrastructure for shipping is not as developed as in more urban areas. Additionally, if you are sending something to an international destination, it will almost always take longer to arrive than if you were sending it domestically. Time of Year or Weather-Related Issues Packages sent during the holiday season may take longer to arrive because of the increased volume of mail. That’s when accurate and fast shipping times are the most important metric to your customers.  If your goods are holiday-centric, you should consider using an eCommerce shipping solution that can guarantee delivery by a certain date and have a plan B ready. Having a fallback option is essential for any business that values its customers. Providing your customers with free shipping or offering discounts for their next order to remedy a bad experience are just some of the best practices you can implement for your eCommerce business. Weather can play a role in how long it takes for a package to arrive, too. For example, if a snowstorm closes down the airport, obviously, packages won't be able to get through. However, this is not something you can influence. So, being prepared to remedy the situation will be crucial for customer retention. You can achieve this by offering free goodies or refunds - something most eCommerce website builders will let you integrate. How To Decrease Your eCommerce Transit Times Decreasing your transit times typically boils down to two things: Carefully planning your shipping strategy and paying a bit extra for faster delivery. Let’s discuss both. Shipping Strategies If your existing delivery plan isn’t bringing in the sales you’ve expected, maybe it is time to reconsider. You can employ same-day, two-day, and overnight shipping, as well as expedited delivery. All of these shipping strategies are great options for eCommerce owners who want to ensure customers receive their orders as quickly as possible. Same-day shipping is excellent because eCommerce owners who offer it can benefit from increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Additionally, offering this option can help you compete with other eCommerce stores that do the same. However, its main drawback is that it requires significant resources from business owners and is often something only top eCommerce stores can afford. Overnight shipping is still pretty fast, but you can get it without breaking the bank. Most product shipment carriers offer these services, but their rates can differ significantly, so make sure to look into multiple options. Two-day shipping is slowly but surely becoming the norm. It’s a good option for eCommerce stores that don't have the resources to offer shorter transit times, but still want to provide their customers with a fast shipping option. Paying a Bit Extra for Your Shipping Each option above can help you speed up the delivery process, but will also likely require you to raise your prices to accommodate the higher shipping fee. It can also make a significant dent in your profits if you offer free shipping for your goods. That’s why small businesses can transfer costs for expedited eCommerce shipping options to their customers. In eCommerce, expedited shipping is a service that allows customers to receive their orders sooner than the standard delivery time. Expedited shipping is usually available for an additional fee, and the delivery time varies by shipping company and destination. This can be a valuable option for your customers who need their items quickly, such as those who are buying a gift or need the items for a special event - without requiring you to pay extra for fast shipping for every product you send out or implement other delivery solutions for eCommerce.
By Julija A. · June 17,2022

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