10 Confounding Errors for All PR Pros to Avoid


By Joseph Priest

“Jessica is leaving on April 12th, 2016” or “Jessica is leaving on April 12, 2016”? “The memo was sent to: associates, managers and vice presidents” or “The memo was sent to associates, managers and vice presidents”? And “Norma met with account executive Betty Schaefer” or “Norma met with Account Executive Betty Schaefer”?

Did you pick the right ones? The correct sentences above include “April 12, 2016,” “sent to” (with no colon) and “account executive Betty Schaefer.”

In my role as writer and editor for almost the past 20 years, I’ve continued to come across some of the same grammar and style errors specific to PR writing, made by PR pros at all levels, from new graduates to seasoned veterans. Over the years, I’ve distilled 10 of the most confounding of these, and in this blog post I’ve compiled them in the quiz below.

Each error is in the form of an example in the sentences below, and each example gets progressively harder. To test your writing skills, read each sentence, try to find the mistake, and check your answer against the explanations further below. All answers are based on the 2015 issue of the Associated Press Stylebook, although in one explanation I include commentary to provide guidance on a rule that is particularly confusing.

Mistakes are embarrassing, unacceptable and, of course, detrimental to business. Regardless of how experienced you are as a writer, it’s important to always be on guard against these common errors and not settle for anything less than perfection.

Let me know how you do on the quiz. Good luck!


  1. Sabrina works in sales & marketing.
  2. Ray will arrive on March 7th.
  3. The media kit is comprised of news releases and fact sheets.
  4. Company XYZ, Inc. is a provider of financial solutions.
  5. David’s media outreach is targeted to: news sites, trade publications and blogs.
  6. The product provides four benefits:

  • Faster processing
  • Offers single point of access
  • Lower cost
  • Integrates legacy systems.

  1. Company ABC’s annual growth rate fell 1 percent, from 10 percent to 9 percent.
  2. When Linda travelled to London, she cancelled her plans to go to the theatre.
  3. Paul found the answer by going on the web, going to the company Web site and going to the news web page.
  4. Jeffrey Immelt, Chief Executive Officer of GE, heads one of the world’s largest companies.


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