From the Editor’s Desk: How to avoid the most “time-honored” mistakes when writing a press release
From the Editor’s Desk is a monthly series that highlights editorial tips, best practices and other useful tidbits of information, written by a member of Marketwire’s own editorial team.
As a member of Marketwire’s Editorial team, I read our clients’ press releases before they are distributed and have noticed that some of the most common mistakes have to do with times and dates.
Here are a few “time-sensitive” mishaps to avoid when writing your own press releases:
- Include the right time zone. When should you switch the time zone from Standard Time (ST) to Daylight Time (DT)? In North America, until March 13, 2010, we’re in Standard Time; from March 14 through November 6, we’re in Daylight Time. Note that these dates change yearly, but generally occur around the same date. A great resource is http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock.
- Reporting earnings accurately. Is it time to report your company’s earnings? Be sure to include the correct fiscal quarter. Since companies are in various quarters of their fiscal years, look out for inconsistencies. But if you’re copying text from an old template, be sure to replace the old quarter with the current one.
- Know how to indicate the time of day. Another time issue that our editors often see is inconsistencies in “a.m.,” “am” and “AM.” Which is it? The Associated Press and The Canadian Press stylebooks, journalists’ go-to manuals, indicate the use of “a.m.” and “p.m.” as the official format, but consistency of style throughout the release is what’s most important and easier on the reader.
- Include the correct year. It may sound like an odd mistake, but it does happen, particularly around December and January, and the typical slip is to include the wrong year with the date. Did your event happen last November or December? Did your fiscal year begin in January? Make sure the date reflects the right year.
Don’t feel bad if one of these oversights appears in your releases because editors see them fairly regularly. The best way to catch mistakes is to proofread your work (more than once) and get as many eyes as possible to look at it before sending it out. But, if you’ve already hit “send,” not to worry — Marketwire editors are available around the clock to ensure your press release is interesting, informative and “in time”!