PR Pros, Get Your 2020 AP Stylebook Updates!

By Joseph Priest, APR

It’s that time of year again, when copy editors, journalists, language professors, English teachers, and, yes, public relations professionals find out the latest updates to an indispensable resource that guides the way we write – the Associated Press Stylebook.

In recent years, the editors of the AP Stylebook have announced these changes at the annual conference of 
ACES: The Society for Editing (formerly known as the American Copy Editors Society), which is usually held in March or April. The announcement has become something of a tradition at the conference that is regularly one of the biggest sessions and always draws a jam-packed room.

This year, though, there was no room full of people or audible group groans as the updates were announced. Instead, as if with so many other events this year, the in-person ACES conference that was planned for Salt Lake City was replaced by a day of online sessions.

An image promoting some of the sessions and sponsors for this year’s virtual ACES: The Society for Editing national conference.

These sessions, of course, included the AP Stylebook changes, and on May 1 a group of about 1,000 editors gathered virtually to get the lowdown on some of the latest changes happening in our language.


The AP Stylebook session at last year’s ACES: The Society for Editing annual conference, in Providence.

The session at this year’s condensed annual conference, held virtually and led by Paula Froke (top right), executive director of Associated Press Media Editors and editor of the AP Stylebook, and Colleen Newvine (bottom right), Associated Press product manager, AP Stylebook, and introduced by Neil Holdway (middle right), secretary of ACES, and assistant managing editor, copy desk, of the Daily Herald (Chicago).   

With all that has been happening this year with COVID-19 and other crises, this year’s AP Stylebook session, thankfully, lacked some of the controversial updates that have marked past AP Stylebook sessions. Some of those previous changes have been earth-shattering, like taking the hyphen out of “e-mail,” allowing “over” to indicate quantitative relationships as well as spatial ones, and permitting “they” to refer to a singular subject.

Here’s a rundown of some this year’s updates that may be helpful for PR pros to know:

  • Capitalization of “Black” - This just in! On the occasion of Juneteenth, on June 19, the AP Stylebook made the momentous announcement that its style is now to capitalize “Black” in a racial, ethnic, or cultural sense, conveying an essential and shared sense of history, identity, and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The announcement followed a long discussion that the stylebook’s editors had been having among other editors, news leaders, and various external organizations, and the change also followed one that had recently been made by such news outlets as NBC News, The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, and the Gannett newspaper chain, including USA Today. The editors are continuing to discuss within the U.S. and internationally whether to capitalize the term “white.” In addition, the AP Stylebook now capitalizes “Indigenous” in reference to original inhabitants of a place. The changes, which are consolidated in the stylebook’s race-related coverage section, align with the long-standing capitalization of other racial and ethnic identifiers, such as Latino, Asian American and Native American. More specifically, the use of the capitalized “Black” recognizes that language has evolved, along with the common understanding that, especially in the U.S., the term reflects a shared identity and culture rather than a skin color alone. Important to note, neither “Black” nor “white” should be used as a singular noun, except when clearly relevant and needed for reasons of space or sentence construction: “The authors of the book wrote separate sections to address the special challenges that Blacks, whites, Latinos and Asian Americans faced during the 1900s.”
  • No more print versions - One of the biggest changes announced is that the AP will no longer print a new version of the stylebook every year. Not surprisingly, sales of the print book have fallen off as more people have migrated to the AP Stylebook Online, and many people do not buy a new hard copy every year.
  • Gender-neutral language entry - Another big change is a new entry on gender-neutral language, which is intended to use descriptions rather than labels. The gender-neutral language entry “aims to treat people equally and is inclusive of people whose gender identity is not strictly male or female.” The entry says further that writers and editors should “balance common sense, respect for the language, and an understanding that gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language is evolving and in some cases is challenging to achieve.” The entry cites examples like using “search” instead of “manhunt” or “door attendant” instead of “doorman,” but it also cautions against using contrived-sounding constructions like “snowperson” or “freshperson.”
  • “Older people” - A particular case in point that was cited is referring to someone as “senior” or “elderly,” which is “identity-first language” because it says nothing about the specific person, and one person’s idea of what constitutes “elderly” might not be another’s. Mentioning someone’s age, when relevant, can replace the label. So the stylebook now prefers “older adults” or “older person,” acknowledging that those terms are also imprecise. The new “older adult(s), older person/people” entry started with discussions between the stylebook team and the American Geriatrics Society. The society had worked on research that found many people associate the terms “elderly” or “senior citizen” with negative stereotypes.
  • “Homeless” - A similar point is how is how “homeless” is best used as an adjective: “’Homeless’ is generally acceptable as an adjective to describe people without a fixed residence. Avoid the dehumanizing collective noun ‘the homeless,’ instead using constructions like ‘homeless people,’ ‘people without housing’ or ‘people without homes.’”
  • “Climate change” - Another change is that “climate change” is now defined as a more accurate term to describe rising global temperatures: “The terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are often used interchangeably, but climate change is the more accurate scientific term to describe the various effects of increasing levels of greenhouse gases on the world because it includes extreme weather; storms; and changes in rainfall patterns, ocean acidification and sea level. Global warming, the increase of average temperature around the world, is one aspect of climate change. The terms ‘climate crisis’ and ‘climate emergency’ are used by some scientists, policymakers and others, and are acceptable.”
  • “Mistress” - Stay away from “mistress”: “Do not use this archaic and sexist term for a woman who is in a long-term sexual relationship with, and is financially supported by, a man who is married to someone else. Instead, use an alternative like ‘companion,’ ‘friend’ or ‘lover’ on first reference, and provide additional details later.”
  • Plus symbol - “Disney+” is now acceptable: The symbol is OK to use when it is pronounced as part of a company, brand or event name: “Disney+,” “Apple TV+,” “ESPN+” or “CompTia Network+.”
  • “Preheat” - It’s also now OK to “preheat”: “Acceptable to refer to heating an oven to a specific temperature before cooking.”


Any questions, suggestions or criticisms for this year’s AP Stylebook updates? Any from years past? Would love to know anything on your mind. Please send them to [email protected].  


Merriam-Webster Inc. Editor-at-Large Peter Sokolowski kicked off this year’s virtual ACES: The Society for Editing online national conference with the session "The Invention of the Modern American Dictionary."


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A Salute to Women in History, Women in PR

By Kecia Carroll, PRSA Tampa Bay member and co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the men and women of PRSA Tampa Bay celebrated by sharing quotes from women in history who inspired them. As we wrap up our celebration, we’d like to recognize and thank all of the women who bring so much of themselves to our chapter. Now more than ever their leadership plays a critical role for our members, our organizations and our communities.

Submitted by Terri Durdaller 

Submitted by Bart Graham 

Submitted by Linda Hughes-Kirchubel, PhD 

Submitted by Quinn LeMelle 

Submitted by Joseph Priest 

Submitted by Camila Rodriguez 

Submitted by Kecia Carroll 

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Going Direct – Why Owned Media Continues To Be Vital In Your Communications Mix

By Travis Claytor, APR

Ask 10 PR professionals for the definition of public relations and you’ll probably get 10 different definitions. Public relations experts may be known as content experts, event planners or even celebrity publicists. As the public relations industry evolves, so do the perceptions about the profession, and unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about PR professionals.

This likely, in part, is due to the many elements of a strategic communications plan that PR practitioners are responsible for: media relations, brand managements, social media, content creation, crisis communications, issues management and the list goes on and on.

If you subscribe to the Spin Sucks PESO model (and you should), there are four main buckets within the integrated communications process:

P – Paid

E – Earned

S – Shared

O – Owned

While I could write multiple articles on each of these areas – you can read more about the elements of a Strategic Communications plan, including the PESO model, here – today we’re going to focus on owned media and why it continues to play a crucial role in managing an effective communications strategy.

Define “Owned Media”

Owned media channels are the channels we, or our clients if you’re an agency, own and operate, where we have full control. What it does NOT include are social, or Shared, channels.

Ask yourself this question – do you own the content you put on Facebook? How about the data from your fans or followers? Or the user experience on the platform? If you think the answer to any of these is yes, I’d encourage you to read the Facebook Terms & Conditions a bit closer.

So, owned media are our websites, landing pages, blogs or anything where we control the content, the cadence, the data, branding and user experience.

Benefits of Owned Media
As consumers’ attention spans decrease, and the news cycle speeds up, earned and shared outlets are oftentimes creating content that is skimmable at best.

Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned are all crucial elements of a successful strategic communications campaign. But, with the lack of control of shared channels, or inconsistency of earned channels, and the resources needed for paid channels, your owned channels are more important than ever.

In a time when PR professionals are navigating through hundreds of thousands of news outlets, blogs, news websites, digital publications and streaming content, owned media channels offer some distinct advantages.

As strategic communications professionals, we look to reduce the number of variables to the success of our campaigns – basically we all feel the need to be in control of who sees our messaging and how they consume our content.

Owned media channels offer the control we’re looking for – in cadence, messaging priority, user experience, brand representation, and data mining. It also allows you to tailor content to specific, niche audiences in the ways they want to consume it.

Messaging Priority and Brand Representation – what does your content say about your brand? Working through earned or shared content, you leave this to chance. But, by making your owned channels one of the pillars of content creation, you control the messaging each and every time new content is distributed.

Cadence and Consumption – how often does your audience demand content, and in what way are they engaging? Hopefully you’re paying attention to some of the KPIs across your channels and you know this answer already, but if not, start digging in now! By focusing on your owned channels, you have the versatility to control how often you put your messaging out for audiences, and doing it in a way that maximizes engagement and ultimately action.

Data – this is probably the biggest advantage of owned media channels. From audience behaviors to content and website engagement, data drives everything we do and gives us the knowledge to create campaigns and content that drives real results. Having access to this information allows us to create content with intention and purpose.

“The But” of Owned Media

There’s always a “but” and working with owned media is no different.

First and foremost, this is all you. Your content, on your channel, the way you want audiences to consume it. That means you need to know the best way to deliver this content and dedicate resources to do it the right way.

With great control comes great responsibility.

One of the biggest challenges of working with owned channels is the potential of not being trusted. These are, after all, your channels and there’s no obligation for you to be objective, which could lead your audiences to be suspicious of your intentions.

It should come as no surprise that, as PR practitioners, we need to build trust and credibility with our key audiences, no matter who they are. It’s even more crucial for a channel considered to be biased. In order to achieve that credibility, make sure transparency is paramount in your approach.

The Takeaway

Simply put – owned media channels are crucial to a successful communications campaign. And so are the others.

Don’t get lost looking at the shiny object as you’re creating and executing your strategic communications campaign. National media hits are great. Shared and social media channels are crucial for engagement. Paid efforts provide targeting opportunities and amplification. And owned channels provide control.

It’s easy for public relations practitioners to focus on getting that next media hit, or launching a new social media channel. But if we’re really going to create meaningful results for our businesses and clients, we need to think in an integrated and strategic way.

How do these elements fit together? How do they enhance the results of the next tactic, or better move your audiences to take action?

Strategy is the name of the game for an integrated communications campaign. Act and execute with meaning and purpose, and you’ll find success with all elements of the communications process, elevating your client and the industry.




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PRSA Panel Spotlights Value of Having a ‘Seat at the Table’

By Joseph Priest, APR

Since the birth of public relations, just a little over 100 years ago, a holy grail of our profession has been to be fully respected by having a “seat at the table” with senior management. It’s been a long and complex journey to achieve this, but today many organizations have by and large integrated public relations as a management function and contributed to the maturation of the profession to help it be seen as a crucial part of business.

More recently, though, the challenge with this has shifted to keeping this seat at the table and continually proving our value in today’s tumultuous political environment, fiercely competitive business playing field and rapidly evolving technology landscape. While these forces have made the practice of public relations more challenging, they’ve also shown the value of public relations professionals having a seat at the table in managing mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics.

I recently had an opportunity to gain more insights on this when I attended a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Tampa Bay chapter event titled “C-suite and Pro Panel” on Oct. 8. The discussion featured an innovative format that included two C-suite executives along with their public relations counterparts, as well as a communications adviser who is a member of the C-suite herself and also works closely with the C-suite of her clients.

The panelists included these six leaders:

  • Gary L. Sasso , president and CEO, Carlton Fields 
  • Kate Barth, senior public relations manager, Carlton Fields 
  • Sam Sipes, LCSW, BCD, president and CEO, Lutheran Services Florida
  • Terri Durdaller, MPA, vice president, Communications, Lutheran Services Florida
  • Jesica D’Avanza, founder and chief strategy officer, Round Square
  • Kecia Carroll (moderator), marketing and communications director, and corporate social responsibility strategist, KC Roberg

The attendees consisted of over 20 public relations professionals representing a mix of different companies and levels of experience from around the Tampa Bay area.

Over the course of an hour, the executives and their public relations counterparts walked us through the dynamics of their working relationships, the major areas of public relations they focus on, and the crucial factors to the success of their power partnerships. The discussion offered a number of insights into how to have a seat at the table and establish an effective relationship with the C-suite, what the most common challenges and opportunities are that executives and public relations professionals regularly face, and why managing and protecting a brand have become increasingly challenging with the competitiveness of today’s economy and the rapid evolution of today’s technology.   

Here are some of the major areas that were explored and the takeaways from them.

The two CEOs on the panel, Gary Sasso and Sam Sipes, both testified to the importance of having their public relations leaders involved in the senior levels of management with a seat at the table. This includes having regular personal meetings through which a genuine relationship of familiarity and trust can be built. In parallel, the public relations professionals, Kate Barth, Terri Durdaller, and Jesica D’Avanza, explained that in their roles it was imperative to listen well, be frank and attempt to add value in every interaction.  

Media Relations and Coaching
Both Sasso and Sipes said they had received media training and praised its value as vital in being able to handle the complexity and unpredictability of live media interviews and conferences. A poll of the attendees in the room revealed that many of their executives had been trained as well. Sasso and Sipes also shared some of their experiences with working with the media and how media training helped prepare them. In particular, the training exposed them to mock situations that provided effective insights and best practices on how to best address these situations.

Crisis Management
With a 24-hour news cycle and ever-expanding range of mobile and social media channels that empower people to share news instantly, having a thorough and carefully planned crisis communication program in place is more vital than ever, the panelists said. At the same time, it’s equally as important to have a public relations leader who can detect and divert a crisis or manage and mitigate one as best as possible. How a crisis is prepared for and how it is managed have critical consequences for a company’s reputation and brand, as well as its internal and external stakeholders.

Internal Communication
The panelists also shared some insights in the area of internal communication, and they discussed some of the best practices they’ve learned for engaging employees as well as building trust and credibility. These included making strategic use of today’s multitude of employee digital communication applications, such as intranet, instant messaging, video chat, social networking, and employee recognition tools, to communicate instantly and in diverse ways to reach the right audiences at the right times.

One of the final topics that the panel addressed was the best way to integrate the expertise of a public relations agency in an organization’s communication program. In particular, Sasso and Sipes examined the business case for having someone like Kate Barth or Terri Durdaller in house versus having no in-house public relations counsel and only an agency or consultant. The CEOs said it was invaluable to be able to have an in-house public relations executive fully committed to the company’s interests and expert in the company’s business. On this topic, Jesica D’Avanza, head of her own communication and consulting agency, offered that an agency should above all strive to be a seamless extension of the clients it serves.  

In over a little more than 100 years, public relations has come a long way in gaining a seat at the table. This discussion was compelling in demonstrating how the profession has met this challenge while at the same time illuminating the challenges today in keeping that seat.

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2019 Call for Chapter Award Nominations

PRSA Tampa Bay Chapter – 2019 Call for Chapter Award Nominations

PRSA Tampa Bay is seeking your input on members that have made significant achievements in public relations and management practices, advancing the profession, meeting the needs of the community and strengthening our chapter. Please review the details below on each category and provide your comments on the most qualified candidates using the nomination form. Deadline for nominations is Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at 5 p.m. Self nominations are encouraged. Please direct any questions to [email protected].

Deanne D. Roberts Excellence in Community Relations Award
This category recognizes a chapter member or local agency who has given pro-bono public relations support to one or more community organization throughout his or her professional career.

Excellence in Chapter Service Award
This award is presented to a chapter member who has been with the chapter for more than one year and has made outstanding contributions to chapter management and member programming.

Michael B. Manning Leadership Award
This award is presented to a chapter member who has demonstrated exceptional leadership within the chapter.

Sue Ellen Richardson “Rookie of the Year” Award
This award recognizes a chapter member who has been with the chapter for two years or less and has demonstrated the commitment to be involved and to make a difference in member programming.

Tampa Bay Chapter President’s Award
This award recognizes up to four chapter members who have gone above and beyond for the good of the chapter. Please provide full details of the project that individual completed.

Tampa Bay Chapter Life Achievement Award
This category honors a senior chapter member who has committed his or her professional career to public relations and has achieved numerous accolades in public relations management, community relations and overall PRSA service.

Nominate someone today!

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2019 PRSA International Conference Scholarship Available!

PRSA Tampa Bay is offering one scholarship for a member to attend the 2019 PRSA International Conference Oct. 20-22 in San Diego, Calif.  To be considered, please complete the application.

About the scholarship: The scholarship recipient will be required to perform a volunteer role during the conference. Be sure to indicate in your application which role(s) you are willing to perform, if you are awarded a scholarship. The Tampa Bay Chapter scholarship will cover the full registration package ($1,495 value) for the conference. All other expenses will be the responsibility of the scholarship recipient.

Deadline to apply: 5 p.m. on July 31.

Judging: A selection committee from another PRSA chapter will review and choose the scholarship recipient based on merit and need.

The winner will be notified by August 16.

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PRSA Tampa Bay Helps Job Seekers at Met. Min.

By Joseph Priest, APR

Sometimes, PR professionals can demonstrate the best of PR when they’re not directly doing PR. Our chapter’s recent participation in a résumé review session at the Metropolitan Ministries main office was one of these times.

On May 21, the Public Service Committee organized our participation in a résumé-review and job-search counseling session for disadvantaged job seekers as part of Metropolitan Ministries’ life skills program. The program provides a range of life-management and career-building services to help people in critical economic need. These services include one that takes in people for a period of six to nine months during which they live at residence halls on Metropolitan Ministries’ main office and attend a series of workshops and activities to help them reset their lives and prepare for a new future.  

Our team took part in one of these workshops to help about 20 economically disadvantaged job seekers who were looking to rebuild their business writing and personal communication skills in order to restart their careers.

Three of our members participated:

  • Leslie Allen
  • Karen McAllister
  • Joseph Priest

Our team: (from left) Karen McAllister; Noel Ramos, Director of Employment Services, Metropolitan Ministries, and coordinator of the session; Leslie Allen; and Joseph Priest.

Our afternoon consisted of the three of us presenting our top writing and job-search tips to the attendees; dividing into three groups where each of us evaluated a different group of the attendees’ résumés on areas such as neatness, organization, and effectiveness; and then meeting with each attendee to share our feedback and provide general advice on their job-search strategies.


Leslie Allen shares her job-search communication tips.

Although we just had a few hours to contribute, our team had an amazingly rewarding experience. We were able to offer high-level communication advice to job seekers who don’t normally have access to this kind of counsel.


In particular, many of the typical job seekers in the Metropolitan Ministries program are different than many of the typical PR candidates that we more commonly work with in that they are older, have already had several jobs in a diversity of areas, and may face special challenges with their ability to work or with their job histories. These challenges can include having regular access to transportation, having special family needs, or having health problems.


Karen McAllister offers feedback on a job seeker’s résumé.

The way our team came together to apply our skills to address these different challenges and give personal counsel to the candidates truly exemplified both the professional value and community benefit of what our profession offers. It was rewarding to be a part of this event, and rewarding to be a part of PRSA Tampa Bay.

The Public Service Committee is planning to build on this session with similar events later this year. Stay tuned for more details on

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2019 AP Stylebook Updates to Know

By Joseph Priest, APR

“Asian-American” is now “Asian American”; “10 percent” is “10%”; and “Beyonce” is “Beyoncé.” So says the leading journalistic authority whose stylebook most PR pros follow.

In recent years, introducing Associated Press style changes at the annual conference of the Society for Editing (formerly the American Copy Editors Society but still referred to as “ACES”) has become a tradition. The AP Stylebook editors announce the newest changes in a session that has become one of the biggest events of the conference and always draws a jam-packed room.

In the last several years, some of those changes have been earth-shattering, like taking the hyphen out of “e-mail,” allowing “over” to indicate quantitative relationships as well as spatial, and permitting “they” to refer to a singular subject. This year was a little less dramatic, but still brought some big changes.

For the last three conferences, at St. Pete, Chicago, and, this year, Providence, I’ve had the fortune to be able to attend and, as a member of the organization, offer some representation from PR writers. Below is a rundown of some of the biggest changes that I took away from this year’s conference along with perspectives that I think are important for PR pros to know. The stylebook entries for these changes will be included in the new paperback version of the AP Stylebook and have already been added to the online version.

I hope they’re a help with your writing. If you have any questions or thoughts on them, I would love to know. Please write me at [email protected].   

The AP Stylebook session begins.

This year, many of the changes centered on racial, ethnic, and gender entries. This is a delicate but expanding area of style that always requires care. To provide greater assistance in this area, the stylebook has consolidated many of its entries under a new section titled “race-related coverage.”

Paula Froke (left), executive director of Associated Press Media Editors and editor of the AP Stylebook, and Colleen Newvine, Associated Press product manager, prepare to announce the latest updates. 

Here are some of the top changes:

  • No more hyphens in national-heritage expressions - The stylebook decided to drop hyphens in expressions denoting dual heritage, like “Asian-American,” “African-American” and others. The decision was made after consultation with members of journalism organizations and affinity groups. Dropping a hyphen does not appear to be a big deal, but it reflects a growing acknowledgment among news organizations that racial and ethnic identities are individual, that the individuals have differing views on how to portray themselves, and that news organizations should be aware of those desires.
  • Using “Latino” - The stylebook also now says that “Latino is often the preferred noun or adjective” for people of Spanish heritage. “Latina” is the feminine form. As for the gender-neutral “Latinx,” the stylebook says its use “should be confined to quotations, names of organizations or descriptions of individuals who request it and should be accompanied by a short explanation.”
  • “Indians” and “American Indians” - The entry on “Native Americans” was also revised. Where the previous entry allowed the use of “Indian” to refer to “Native Americans” or “American Indians” (the terms themselves are a matter of preference), the new entry says it should not be used as shorthand for “American Indians” and should be reserved for people from South Asia or the nation of India.

Other announcements also marked some big changes:

  • The “%” symbol is legal – The AP is now allowing the use of “%” with figures instead of requiring “percent.” Instead of “the stock rose 3 percent,” copy that follows AP style can now read “the stock rose 3%.” One reason for not making this change earlier relates to the AP’s client base. Because news organizations have different computer systems to receive AP copy, the material transmitted by the AP must be digestible by them all. In the past, AP warned against sending “nontransmitting symbols” like “*,” “@,” “~,” and the like. Though some systems still can’t digest those, “%” can generally get through now.

“%” is sanctioned.

  • Yes way, José - The AP also advised against transmitting any accent marks for the same reason. This, too, has changed: a revised entry allows “accent marks or other diacritical marks with names of people who request them or are widely known to use them, or if quoting directly in a language that uses them.” There is still the caveat that some systems won’t accept them, and it is not blanket permission to use accents on words in English that have them or need them for pronunciation. The AP clarified this usage by explaining that accents are for “people, not places, things, foods, weather systems or anything else.” So, the name of the star from the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary can now be written “Renée Zellweger,” with the accent mark in the first name, but no accent mark would be used for words like “entree,” “cafe,” “décor” or “jalapeno.”
  • Debunking a myth further - Split infinitives are now even more OK. The previous entry said this: “In general, avoid awkward constructions that split infinitive forms of a verb (to leaveto help, etc.) or compound forms (had leftare found out, etc.).” It continued: “Occasionally, however, a split is not awkward and is necessary to convey the meaning.” The new entry takes a stronger position that splitting infinitives is OK: “In many cases, splitting the infinitive or compound forms of a verb is necessary to convey meaning and make a sentence easy to read. Such constructions are acceptable.” Here’s an example of how avoiding the splitting of an infinitive can make a sentence awkward: “She went to the store personally to thank the employees.” In this case, avoiding a split infinitive – by keeping “personally” out of the middle of “to thank” – results in an awkward construction. The most natural interpretation of “personally” in that place in the sentence is that the woman in question went to the store personally, as if there’s a way to go to a store without going there personally. Of course, the much more natural and common way to write the sentence above is with the infinitive split: “She went to the store to personally thank the employees.” As the AP Stylebook’s slowness in taking a stronger position on split infinitives shows, the myth that splitting an infinitiveis somehow wrong is one of the hardest to kill.
  • “Data” is right - Finally, formalizing the practice that has become widespread for this word, the AP now says “data” typically takes singular verbs and pronouns when used for general audiences and in journalism contexts. For example: “The data was collected over two years.” This follows a long-growing practice. Although the singular form of this word – “datum” – technically still exists, it’s almost never used outside scientific writing, and most language authorities have come to agree that “data” has become a collective noun, like “information.” Good riddance, “datum”!

Me at the annual conference for the Society for Editing (also known as “ACES,” for its former name, the American Copy Editors Society) in Providence, where I was joined by over 800 editors from a wide variety of digital media, print media, corporate communications, book publishing, academia and government.

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PRSA Tampa Bay recognizes outstanding PR students

The end of the academic semester was a busy and professionally rewarding period for PRSA Tampa Bay as we awarded scholarships to four amazing PR students -- three at the University of South Florida and one at The University of Tampa -- and had the pleasure of congratulating the founding president of the UT PRSSA Chapter for her recognition as Outstanding Public Relations Student.

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, represented PRSA Tampa Bay on April 18 at the USF 2019 Honors and Awards Banquet and had the opportunity to congratulate Kayley Alsina and Jessica Schmidtetter for having been awarded the John Cassato Scholarship as well as Jaiya Williams, recipient of the Walter E. Griscti Scholarship.

The John Cassato Scholarship “is designated for an undergraduate public relations student and is awarded each fall semester…in memory of John Cassato, a former public relations officer of the Jim Walter Corporation. This scholarship requires residency in the 15-county area served by the Tampa Bay PRSA chapter, an overall GPA of 3.0, enrollment in 12 or more hours at USF, and enrollment in or completion of at least one PR course.”

The Walter E. Griscti Scholarship “is designated for undergraduate public relations students. The scholarship is awarded each spring semester…in memory of USF professor emeritus Walter E. Griscti, AAPR. The scholarship requires residency in the 15-county area served by the Tampa Bay PRSA chapter, a 3.0 overall GPA, enrollment in 12 or more hours at USF, and enrollment in or completion of at least one PR course.”

On April 29, Kirk and PRSA Tampa Bay President Jenna Stock attended UT’s College of Arts and Letters’ Awards Ceremony, with Jenna presenting the first-ever “Emerging Professional” scholarship to sophomore/budding PR star Olivia Cowden. Although Olivia was unable to attend the ceremony as she is studying abroad in Florence, Italy, Jenna’s remarks underscored the importance of this recognition by the leading public relations organization in the Tampa Bay area. And when Olivia is back on campus in the fall, a formal in-person presentation of the scholarship will take place.

The “PRSA Tampa Bay Emerging Professional” scholarship is awarded to a UT student who has demonstrated an active interest in public relations as his or her career path. He or she also will have declared public relations as his or her specific area of study (minor or concentration) and will have an exemplary grade point average. Additional qualifying distinctions will include active involvement, preferably with a public relations focus, in on-campus organizations and activities and, ideally, completion of one or more public relations internships. 2019 is the first year that this recognition has been offered, and we look forward to many more!

Finally, Jenna and Kirk congratulated Emilie Sears, graduating senior and founding president of UT PRSSA, for her recognition by the university’s Communication Department as Outstanding Public Relations Student. Emilie has embraced public relations as her chosen career path and has been an untiring champion for the benefits of professional organization involvement as a way for aspiring public relations practitioners to begin establishing their own identities. Emilie is now embarking on her search for an entry-level position that will allow her to put her studies and her hands-on experience gained through multiple PR internships to good use.

If these recent experiences are any indication, public relations profession of the future will be in very, very good hands!

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, congratulates USF scholarship recipients (left to right) Jessica Schmidtetter, Jaiya Williams, and Kayley Alsina


Two presidents at once! PRSA Tampa Bay President Jenna Stock congratulates UT PRSSA Founding President Emilie Sears


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Volunteer for May 21 Résumé Review at Metropolitan Ministries

Join PRSA Tampa Bay on Tuesday, May 21, in giving back to our community at a résumé review session at Metropolitan Ministries!

As part of our chapter’s public service initiative, we’re recruiting volunteers to donate a couple of hours to participate in a workshop that is part of Metropolitan Ministries’ life skills program. We’ll be hosting a session with 10 to 20 economically disadvantaged job seekers who are looking to rebuild their business writing and personal communication skills in order to restart their careers. The session will include individual résumé reviews as well as a presentation with best practices for writing and interviewing.  

Please lend your expertise to help us help our community. Email Joseph Priest at [email protected] to register or find out more information.

Metropolitan Ministries résumé review session

Tuesday, May 21, 1:30-3 p.m.

Metropolitan Ministries Outreach Center
2301 N. Tampa St.
Tampa, FL 33602

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