Creating a memorable quote for a press release can elevate the story from a meh to a must-use. However, too often quotes end up simply being fillers, bumping up the word count to get the release off to compliance, signed off and out of the door.
Here are 6 important considerations for quotes to help a press release fly:
1. Quote someone relevant and important
It’s often the marketing or sales team who ask for a press release to be written and, because they send the brief, they are often quoted.
Journalists and bloggers fully realise that press releases are promotional (some to a greater extent than others!) but there’s no need to highlight the issue. Quoting a marketing / sales person is a sure-fire way of getting a release moved from inbox to bin.
It’s much better to quote someone in a more meaningful position or someone with seniority and authority. Board level positions usually tick this box as do people with descriptive titles.If it’s someone recognisable all the better.
Try to be consistent when quoting spokespeople too. It’s fine to have a handful of people available but don’t quote someone new every time.
2. Add human interest
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just quoting the right person. They also have to say something interesting. A quote in a press release is a back-up to the main story. It doesn’t necessarily need to say anything new but acts as a second way of telling the news in a more personable way – or with a little more punch.
Larger businesses and corporations, particularly, have a certain tone of voice when it comes to copywriting but the quote is an opportunity to show that the organisation is in fact run by real people and not robots.
Providing this additional human touch can be done in several ways. Using personal experience, using emotive language, ‘I feel’, ‘I believe’, or ‘In my opinion’ can be useful phrases, as can using a simile or metaphor.
3. Is it speech-like?
It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Quotes in press releases give journalists and bloggers a shortcut to an interview: to the uninitiated, the journalist appears to have spoken to the organisation involved.
Therefore, the content of the quote needs to sound like real spoken language. If sentences are too long or use overly complicated words it is less likely to be used.
Read the quote out loud to make sure it ebbs and flows in the same way as normal speech should.
In trying to impress a point, a stat can be a handy part of any writer’s arsenal. However, be wary of how this is used in a quote. Save the details for the main body of the release and go light on numbers in speech. For example, if a statistic shows that 81% of people prefer ketchup to brown sauce, in the quote, it’s much more human to refer to four in five.
It’s quite surprising just how many CEOs are ‘delighted’, ‘excited’ and ‘thrilled’. C’mon? Of course they are – that’s why the release is being issued but think of a better way to say it. If journalists had a pound for every release that included one of these terms, they really wouldn’t be sitting there waiting for more of the same.
Similarly, ‘unrivalled’, ‘unparalleled’, ‘outstanding’, ‘first-class’, ‘excellent’ are all big no-nos in quotes and in press releases as a whole for that matter. Quotes should be used to express opinions and it may very well be that the opinion of the spokesperson is that the new product or launch is bloomin’ great but blowing your own trumpet rarely goes down well. Try using features and benefits to get the message across more subtly.
Somewhere in the quote or quotes, it’s good to have a killer soundbite. Not only does this elevate the story to journalists or bloggers, making them more likely to use it, it also gives your target audience a pithy, concise aide-memoir.
A quote is the only part of a press release that a journalist or blogger is not allowed to change and it’s a very powerful tool when used correctly. However, ask someone for a quote, and even the most eloquent individual in real life can appear stilted and robotic when they put pen to paper.
As the adage goes, ‘people buy from people’ and successful communication is paramount in building relationships. Quotes in press releases should start to build that connection, allowing people outside the organisation to better understand how the people within it think and operate. A word count filler they not