How many times have you read a quote in a news release that sounded canned, stale and clearly was not something a person would actually say?
“…besides clichés, superlatives, and meaningless terms such as ‘cutting-edge,’ using poorly worded quotes will have reporters hitting the delete button before they read your third paragraph,” writes Laura Hale Brockway, author of the writing and editing blog impertinentremarks.com, in Ragan’s PR Daily.
She offers four tips for improving quotes in releases:
1. Trash those lazy verbs. Laura recommends replacing them with clear descriptions of your customers’ needs and how your product (or service) meets them. To which I would add: just be careful not to sound too promotional or sensational.
2. Keep them conversational. Quotes are more believable if they sound like something a person would actually say if you were talking with him or her.
3. Can you paraphrase? She contends (and I agree) that you can often improve a suggested quote your client or an executive gives you by paraphrasing it or breaking it up so that the quote is short and punchy.
4. Step up your interviewing skills. If you’re interviewing someone, ask for real-world examples, metaphors, epiphanies, etc. Doing so is likely to uncover interesting details that might otherwise be overlooked.
The more a news release looks and sounds like an article in a publication written by a journalist, the more likely it is to be taken seriously—assuming you’ve done your homework and targeted the right media outlets and reporters.
In my experience, quotes are often add-ons to news releases, and they aren’t given the time and attention they deserve. Ad agencies and their clients will benefit from taking a few extra steps to improve the quality of their quotes, and thereby improve their chances of them getting on reporters’ radar.
Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.