Fed up with submitting information to journalists or bloggers and not getting used in their articles?
Look no further, here is your definitive guide to writing pitch-perfect quotes that are (almost) guaranteed to get you more mentions in newspapers, magazines and online.
First things first, are you completely sure that the journalist wants your content in the format you’re supplying it? Some editorial sites like short snappy comments from lots of commentators in order to write up the article themselves. Others prefer whole bylines to be written by one company.
You should be able to get a feel about which of these best applies from the publication’s site or blog itself, but if it’s not cut and dry, no-one will mind you asking if you’re going to provide a more informed response.
When you’re completely sure that they are looking for quotes or comments, then you need to find out whether the journalist or blogger wants the content in written form or whether a telephone call is preferable.
The latter may sound very old-school but some journalists and bloggers prefer to get a verbatim quote as they usually sound more real and less stilted than something that’s polished by a team of marketing or PR people to include very corporate key messages.
Once you’ve established both of the above, you’re nearly ready to start compiling the perfect quote. Here is a simple checklist to make sure you’re giving you and your company the best chance of being included:
- Ask the journalist if they want you to cover any particular angle. They may ask different companies to come back with responses for different sections of the article or may specifically want you to respond to some statistics, for example.
- Don’t try to create answers for the whole article – you’re much better off providing 2-3 really memorable, pithy quotes rather than 5+ plain vanilla ones. Play to your strengths – reply about the topics you really know about and leave the rest to other experts in their fields. It’ll be pretty obvious if you’re trying to wing it.
- Don’t overdo the length – 2-3 sentences per quote is usually enough. That way you might be quoted twice in an article which will reinforce your brand. Don’t worry if the 2-3 quotes don’t flow from one to the other.
- Assume the journalist has or is going to acquire a certain amount of knowledge on the topic. They will introduce the subject to their readers – they don’t need the quotes to teach a granny to suck eggs.
- The quotes used are most likely to add colour and opinion – what is your or your company’s attitude towards a topic?
- Speak from the heart – being passionate is good.
- Similarly, convey your personality and your company’s too if you can – don’t feel you have to write formally if that’s not in keeping with house style. Typos, slang and colloquial language are a no-no though (most of the time).
- Don’t quote statistics if you don’t have to and if you do, don’t regurgitate them like a robot. No-one says ‘Sixty-five point two per of people think XYZ.’ If you feel a statistic is relevant then say ‘Nearly two thirds’ or ‘Over half’, or ‘One in five’ etc.
- Don’t use any jargon (unless you’re being quoted for a very specific industry publication). Be accessible to as many as people as possible whilst keeping your target audience in mind.
- Consider who is being quoted. If the individual’s job title is heavily marketing or sales orientated it can be a turn-off for journalists, bloggers, and their readers. If you have this predicament, consider creating a softer job title for the person for their media work.
- Do you have a good photograph of the individual? If the journalist or blogger is struggling for imagery, having a half decent head and shoulders shot can make all the difference.
- Stick to the journalist deadline and if you can get the content over early. Believe it or not, journalists and bloggers are not sitting there twiddling their thumbs waiting for your content to arrive. If they’ve received sufficient ideas, they’ll probably start writing their piece and then at this point your quote will have to be truly outstanding to get used. Be the one that gets in there early.
- If you’ve been asked to provide product information, images or contact details, make sure they are exactly what was asked for. Sending low res when high res was specifically requested or similarly, cut out images when lifestyle pics were preferred, is just plain lazy.
As you can see, there is much you can do to give your company or you a better shot at getting quoted. Bear in mind that every journalist or blogger will have different expectations and some are more tolerant of misdemeanors than others, but if you want to be used consistently within other people’s articles, it is certainly worth paying attention to the points above.