What’s New in the 2017 AP Stylebook

What’s New in the 2017 AP Stylebook

Changes in the Photo Section Including Style for Caption Signoffs and Handout Photos

There are changes in the photo section of the 2017 AP Stylebook. The changes apply to caption signoffs for photos that are not taken by AP staff or freelance photographers. The Stylebook also updated their policy on handout photos, with new byline titles and updated language in the instructions field.

The caption signoff for photos from an AP staff or freelance photographer are different than all other photos. The signoff for these other photos is in parenthesis, the photographer’s name followed by a slash, then the source followed by “via AP.” An example of this is (Brian Gottesman/The New York Times via AP).

The AP has two types of byline titles for handout photos. They are HOGP and HONS. A HOGP byline title is given to a handout photo when it is determined that the picture is produced by a government body. A Hons byline is given when the photo is obtained for approved, story-specific use only. This includes family photos and editorial publicity photos that accompany stories about products, movies, books, etc.

When a handout photo is given the HOGP byline, the following language should be added to the instructions field:

AP provides access to this publicity distributed handout photo provided by . Mandatory credit.

When a photo is determined as a part of the HONS category, the following language should be used:

AP provides access to this handout photo to be used solely to illustrate news reporting or commentary on the facts or events depicted in this image. This image many only be used for 14 days from the time of transmission; No Archiving; No Licensing. Mandatory credit.


A major social force influencing the future of public relations is globalization. With each passing day, the peoples of earth are being drawn closer. The economies of different countries are inexorability linked. Advances in communications technology allows us to know what is occurring in a country half-way around the world instantaneously. Improvements in transportation have made it possible for you to travel in mere hours distances that took your parents and grandparents months and weeks to cover.

As trade expands globally the most notable audiences drawing the attention of public relations practitioners are in places such as Russia, China, India, Latin America, and Europe. Public relations practitioners must overcome language barriers and social differences to practice culturally appropriate and locally acceptable public relations. Differences in lifestyles, customs, values, and cultures are not the only challenges. Unique aspects of the local political, economic, and industrial structures also are challenges.

Working in combination, these forces has given us a sense of interconnectedness and created a world of opportunities for public relations professionals. Targeting certain audiences and correctly reaching them is easier than ever. Globalization has also caused public relations practitioners to face serious challenges and make some difficult choices. Thanks to the global reach of digital communications, crises can now spread instantaneously. The internet makes it possible for anyone with a cause to become a self-publisher. It is becoming more difficult for organizations to identify potential threats.

China is one growing market undergoing revolutionary political, social, and industrial changes. China reopened to Western markets in 1978. The growth in business opportunities in china has been incredible. Despite the presence of corruption and government regulations, American and European companies have embraced the Chinese market. In order to do well a company must know the local customs and government regulations. In China, personal influence is important in every part of the business, social and media systems. For example, a public relations practitioners want to send out news releases, they may have to know the reporters personally.

Some public relations practitioners see globalization as an opportunity, others see it as a threat, still others see it as both.

By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.

Organizational Factors Determine the Role of Public Relations

The role of public relations in an organization often depends on the type of firm, perceptions of top management` and even the capabilities of the PR executive. A study done by Larissa Grunig of University of Maryland and Mark McElreath at Towson University, among others, show that large, complex, organizations have a much higher chance than smaller firms to include public relations in the policy-making progress.

Companies such as Exxon Mobil and Arby’s, are sensitive to policy issues and public attitudes and have a vested interest in establishing a solid corporate identity. Consequently, they place greater emphasis on news conferences, formal contact with the media, executive speeches, and counseling management about issues that could potentially affect the corporate bottom line. In such organizations the authority and power of the public relations departments are quite high.

In contrast, most small scale organizations has nominal public relations activity, and PR staff may be regulated to technician roles, such as issuing regular newsletters and routine news releases. PR in these organizations has little or no input into management decisions and policy formation.

However research also indicates the size of organizations may matter less in the role of PR than the perceptions and expectations of its top management. In many firms, top-level management perceives PR as media relations and publicity. In large scale organizations of low complexity, public relations is seen as a support function of the marketing department.

Such perceptions stop the public relations department from taking part in management decision making. In these organizations the public relations department prepare messages with no input on message strategy. In many cases, these organizations’ public relations personnel lack a knowledge base in research, environmental scanning, problem solving and managing total communication strategies. The PR professionals could also be more fulfilled by working tactically rather than strategically.

The most reputable Fortune 500 corporations view public relations as a strategic management tool. A study done by the University of Southern California and the Council of Public Relations Firms found that these organizations spent a larger share of revenue to public relations activities, extensively used outside public relations firms to supplement their PR departments and did not have the public relations department report to the marketing department.

 The primary indicator of a department’s power and influence is whether the top communications officer has a seat at the management table. Gaining and maintaining a seat at the management table should be an ongoing goal of public relations professionals. It is increasingly common for the top public relations officer to report to the CEO.

The 2012 GAP VII report based on a survey of 620 senior level PR practitioners reported that 60 percent of corporate respondents reported to the CEO or COO.

The study also showed that 60 percent of the respondents said that the public relations function is well received in the C-Suite and that members of the department are invited to attend senior-level strategy meetings.  In a prior GAP report CEOs ranked public relations second only to marketing for its contribution to organizational success.

A 2011 survey by PR Week reported that 94 percent of respondents said they had a seat at the decision making table at the earliest stages of discussions that will eventually require internal or external communications.

By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.

When Change is Bad

A blatant example of insulting the customer is Gap Inc., when the company changed their iconic logo brusquely in 2010. Overnight, the classic logo turned to something that felt shabby and cheap. It insulted loyal consumers who thought the new logo insulted their taste and integrity.

The change resulted in the internet being on fire with criticism from design bloggers, customers and other reviewers.

“It demonstrated the passion our customers and the community in large have for our brand” was the official company line. That’s another way of saying it sucked. Gap mistook how its loyal customers felt about the logo and brand identity. The company also misunderstood social media where customers can and do voice their opinions with lightning speed. Did the company spent as much time on the logo as they would on a change in the supply change? People will always comment on the new, and Gap Inc. should have recognized it and proactively managed that process.

Obviously, brands have to make stops and reconsider strategies. Gap North America President Marka Hansen said their company were making changes to their products and the new logo was a part of that. Gap’s iconic line of clothing wasn’t changing drastically. The Jeans and T-shirts hadn’t been reinvented. So why the mega logo change? Why lose sales from customers? Logos have value.  The logo as the only change to the company made customers feel confused not enlightened. A change in logo should be researched and appeal to consumers.

On October 11, 2010, a few days after the change of the logo, Gap announced a reversal to the original immediately. This was due to customer backlash. In between the fracas the new logo created and the decision to pull it, Gap also tried to get customers to submit their own designs for a new logo. A strategy that also failed.

Gap didn’t communicate that they were going to change their logo beforehand. These types of changes are generally preceded by research or groundwork, and launched with media coverage and advertising.

To no one’s surprise, Hansen was replaced and there was a lot of reshuffling, specifically Gap’s creative team.

The debacle serves as a reminder about checking in with your audience. A logo for a brand as large, prominent and consumer oriented as Gap is very important to its brand and audience.

Please Stop Organizations from Overpromising

Organizations shouldn’t overpromise as an alternative to the risk of losing a customer, employee, deal, flattering article or favorable analyst rating. Overpromising may buy some time, but it almost always comes to haunt the organization in the long term. Not delivering on expectations is dangerous for the future of the organization. Honesty is a better alternative to overpromising.

Another, maybe better way to put it: It is much better surprising people with good news at a later time than giving them unrealistic expectations too soon.

An organization builds trust not just by fixing things before they break, but by consistently being honest on what they can or cannot do. Even though this seems simple many companies overpromise in many different ways.

Let us talk about a wide range of exaggerations, unfairly raised expectations, and outright deceptions.

The job that has the biggest amount of overpromising is a salesman. The salesman will promise everything in order to make a sale. He/she will make the sale and worry about how to keep the sale only after they landed the business. Companies rationalize this type of pitch six ways from Sunday. They tell everyone that everyone exaggerates to make a sale. That type of behavior is expected in sales. The truth is that customers expect companies to keep their promises and hold them accountable for delivering  what they guaranteed in their presentation.


Here are some categories on over-promising


FINANCIAL FORECASTS – Wall Street is unforgiving when a company’s promise never materializes. Many CEOs talk about the upcoming quarter in a good way when cushioning a current dismal quarter. They may do a good job at convincing analysts of an upswing. When an upswing doesn’t materialize, analysts are furious, Wall Street hates surprises, and it hates unnecessary surprises even more.


EMPLOYEE RETENTION – To keep good employees, managers will often guarantee them promotions, raises and bonuses. In some circumstances, employees make these promises during a particularly busy time. In other instances, they make these promises knowing that they are unlikely. In either situation, word spreads quickly among organizations when these promises are broken. If this type of practice is allowed explicitly or implicitly it causes employees to doubt everything management says.


RECRUITING GUARANTEES – This can be a great temptation for companies looking for “hot” candidates for top positions. Knowing that these superstars can have their pick of jobs and that they probably have other offers, organizations will offer all sorts of perks and promises. Their rationale is once the employee is onboard he’s not going to leave if the company doesn’t deliver on all these guarantees.


DEADLINES – Companies will tell federal and state legislators they’ll meet their requirements by a certain date; they tell their customers that they’ll have the order delivered to them by a certain date; they insist to the financial community that they’ll be profitable by a certain quarter. For all these groups, dates are important. They are counting on deadlines being met and when they’re not they feel deceived. The feeling of deception is even stronger where it seems organizations had no intention of meeting the goal. Too often, we underestimate the importance of due dates. individuals being late by a day may not matter in the grand scheme of things. But, for companies it sends a clear message that they aren’t honest. If a company isn’t serious about its deadlines, than what else don’t they care about?

DEAL NEGOTIATIONS – Some organizations that are known as great deal negotiators may not be known as honest or fair negotiators. In mergers and acquisitions, in labor negotiations, and in joint ventures, some companies consider themselves great bargainers because they cut good deals. They are willing to say anything to close the deal on favorable terms. They paint rosy pictures to a company while they will cut 25% of the company’s employees


MEDIA INTERVIEWS – It’s astonishing to see otherwise intelligent leaders get carried away in a media interview. They start saying how great the company’s prospects are, and before you know it they painted an unrealistic picture of their prospects. Stories like these not only unfairly raise an audience’s impression, but they also mislead reporters. When reporters find out their published article is inaccurate they feel burned, and don’t trust that CEO and organization and their following articles reflect this.

By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.

Types of Releases

There are several different types of releases. To find the one you need ask yourself why and when you should write one. The reason for writing releases is determined by the type of organization you write for and what your aims are. A release is just one of many ways a company uses to get media attention.

You write releases when you have news. You should write a news release when your news fall into the following categories – announcements, created news, spot news, response situations, features, bad news and special matters.

Announcement Releases – These releases includes the marketing of a new product, the opening of a new plant and a new company policy.

Created News Releases – Often, a mere announcement isn’t enough to attract the desired media attention. In this case, a company may try to make the release juicier by making sure something newsworthy is happening. The company might bring a celebrity to a concert or a well-known speaker to a company function.

Spot News Releases – Announcement releases are sometimes about things that happened without warning. An explosion can occur in a munitions factory, an airplane can be hijacked. Such occurrences are spot news, and when they happen a news release is in order. You have to fill in the blanks as they become available, issue news bulletins and follow with a release with as much information as you can provide. A spot news release usually has to be followed by a second release explaining how the initial events were resolved.

Response Releases – Often news about a company is delivered by sources other than the public relations department. A consumer group may issue a report critical of a company. When this happens reporters call for responses. Companies with good public relations organizations anticipate these calls and have position papers for reference and response releases ready.

Feature Releases – A news release can discuss a topic that is more than a day or two old and is of special interest. All public relations people can find feature material somewhere in their company – something going on in research and development, like a new production process. Such features can be prepared as ordinary news releases. An alternative, if the publication typically uses it, is a narrative style. The feature lends itself to a story telling approach. For television, it might even be used over several consecutive days.

Bad News Releases – There are times when something happens that the company would like to keep quiet. When the news is released it often involves the company’s regulatory agency. Regulatory agencies are supposed to act in the public’s interest, you can be sure the agency will release a report.

By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.

Simplifying the Complex

The need for clear and simple writing has never been greater. With email messages flashing through cyber space and faxes going around the globe, your prose will be translated and interpreted in many different cultures and experiences.

If you remember to write in simple language you will be able to write simply about the most complex ideas. This is important because the world has become exceedingly complex.

Public relations professionals are called upon to translate complex ideas into simple language. There Is nothing simple about many industries PR professionals work in. These industries include nuclear power, pollution chemistry or petroleum economics. Yet such issues are becoming more and more important to the average citizen. Public relations practitioners must be able to explain the implications of government or corporate interferences in these areas, as well as to interpret latest research findings in these industries. Public relations professionals usually use authorities to check the final drafts to be sure the translations are accurate.

There are many people who demand scientific explanations. If your company is building a chemical plant near a town, you better be able to explain to the people who live there what the plant will do and how its safety system will work.

Conflicting scientific advice also gets into the public agenda, leaving people confused about what to believe or do.

A solution for PR writers of health, disease and treatment issues is to use a system of getting a diversified panel of experts both internally and externally to develop a document called a position paper. Position papers then provide a launching pad for all public statements on an issue about a product, service or project.

And if the public doesn’t ask technical questions directly, newspaper reporters and electronic journalists will. Today, all media deal with more technical subjects in greater detail than ever before. When reporters, freelancers or bloggers working on such stories don’t understand something themselves, they often go to PR people for explanations.


By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.

Is the Job a Good Fit

Our core beliefs come from our personalized belief system. Our Personalized belief system is influenced by our family, friends, education and our faith. Our personalized belief system isn’t tested as much as in the work place.

The reason is that organizations, like individuals, develop around a core set of values. Often you can find these set of values on the mission statement or even a formal statement of values. In finding a place to work you will need to look at companies core set of values to see if there’s a fit. Companies also look for a “good fit” when hiring.

Even when there is a “good fit,” initially, situations change and so does your comfort in the workplace. One way to understand ethical responsibility is to look closely at the changes in personal and professional behavior.              

By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.

Social media regulation leads to issues

The nature of social media makes it difficult for public relations professionals to manage the medium. Certain sectors, such as finance and pharmaceuticals, are heavily regulated. Making it difficult for PR professionals to know what they should put online. Even third party posts on a company’s social media platforms can raise legal issues.

The federal regularity agencies that regulates industries monitor social media but are slow in giving guidance to many sectors on appropriate uses of social media. Companies can get stiff fines from these agencies. The financial and health sectors are heavily regulated and are very wary of social media. This frustrates public relations professionals and consumers.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 8 out of 10 internet users search for health information online. It’s very important the FDA makes timely and relevant guidelines for social media use to healthcare companies.

One of the challenges is knowing whether a consumers post on a company’s website or social media is considered company communication. This could be troubling. For instance, if a consumer posts a non-recommended use of a drug.

In the financial sector, FINRA recommends not posting anything about an investment unless approved by leadership of the firm.

By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.

Persuading & The Process to Adoption

The ultimate goal of a message is to get a reaction from it. Public Relations personal communicate messages on behalf of organizations to persuade.

Here are five factors effecting Persuasion:

• Relative Advantage – The degree to which an innovation is seen as better than its replacement

• Compatibility – The degree which an innovation is seen as consistent with current values, experiences, and needs of potential adopters

• Complexity – The degree to which an innovation is seen as difficult to understand or use

• Trialibility – The degree to which an innovation is experience on a limited basis

• Observability – The degree to which an innovation are visible to others

Getting people to act on a message is not a simple process. The Five-Stage Adoption Process shows how people accept new ideas or products. Here is the module organized from being introduced to the idea/product to accepting them:

1. Awareness – A person becomes aware of an idea or new product, often by means of an advertisement or a news story.
2. Interest – The individual seeks more information about the idea or the product, perhaps by reading an in-depth article, researching the product, or visiting the Wikipedia page of the idea.
3. Evaluation – The potential consumer seeks information on the product or idea regarding his specific needs and wants. Feedback from people fits into this part of the process.
4. Trial – The person tries the product or idea through using a sample, witnessing a demonstration, or making positive remarks of the product or idea
5. Adoption – The person introduces the product to use regularly or embraces the idea

The process works differently for each person. Many don’t go through all the stages for a product or idea. The process could end at any step. Many people will be introduced to the process, only a few will get to adoption.

By: Brian Gottesman

Brian Gottesman is a Public Relations Executive with over 9 years of experience in public relations and publications. His work has been published in several network television, print and blog outlets including Fox News, CBS, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzz Feed and Mashable.