The guide is intriguing — not only as a useful tool for the many journalists who will be, in some way or another, writing about 9/11 over the next few weeks, but also as a hint at what a stylebook can be when it’s thought of not just as a book, but as a resource more broadly. AP’s guide (official name: “Sept. 11 Style and Reference Guide”) is a kind of situational stylebook, an ad hoc amalgam of information that will be useful for a particular set of stories, within a particular span of time.Notice that a short time frame isn't a liability for this highly focused stylebook. I'm thinking of a few clients and friends who could use this approach when:
- A long-planned event will bring a lot of reporters or bloggers to your company or organization. That might be a conference, a commencement, or a contest, but if it includes many reporters who don't normally cover you, a special stylebook can come in handy.
- An unexpected crisis or event draws coverage. In these cases, you might just need a standing shorthand stylebook in your back pocket to share so that reporters covering a crisis reference you and find out what they need quickly. Those who are handling communications for natural disasters might want yet another kind of stylebook.
- You're marking a major historic moment. Maybe it's occurring on your doorstep, or your company or institution played a major role. If the anniversary's big enough, it might warrant such a guide.