PR Daily's article “4 Ways to Improve Quotes in Press Releases” by Laura Hale Brockway had me taking notes. Sometimes I struggle to develop that perfect press release quote that’s not too long and grabs the reader's attention. Brockway gives great advice on how to create those conversational, must-have press release quotes. Quotes in a press release give attribution to your information and lend human credibility to your work or service via a customer or company supporter. Brockway shares four incorrect uses of quotes that "will sink your press release faster than an iceberg on a foggy night." Yikes.
1. Trash the lazy verbs.
A common problem with press release quotes is that they’re full of lazy corporate verbs such as synergize, utilize, leverage, or facilitate. For example, “We are leveraging cutting-edge technology to meet our customer’s needs.” What does that mean?
Instead, describe your customer’s needs and how your product solves it. For example, “Suppliers often do not have real-time access to customers. This app enables them to send secure, instant messages to anyone in the supply chain.”
2. Keep it conversational.
Another problem with press release quotes—particularly those from the CEO or another executive—is that your audience knows these quotes are made up. When was the last time you actually heard someone say, “This new app will foster a new synergistic environment where suppliers and customers can leverage the new social media environment to communicate?" According to Brockway, conversational quotes are more believable.
3. Can you paraphrase? Cut it down?
PR professionals are often given quotes from clients, and that may be all you have to work with. How can you improve the quotes if you can’t go back to the client and ask for something else? Can you paraphrase what’s been sent? Can you break up the quote? Do you have to use the quote at the beginning of the press release?
For example, take this quote:
“I plan to continue this legacy of providing innovative products and services to our customers. With over 30 competing companies for our customers to choose from, we have some challenges ahead. I am confident that we can meet those challenges successfully. And the first step is the release of our new app," says XYZ President and CEO John Johnson.
And turn it into this:
President and CEO John Johnson believes the release of the new app will provide customers with the communications tools they need, setting XYZ Company apart from more than 30 competitors.
4. Step up your interviewing skills
Want better quotes? Ask better questions. If you are interviewing the person you’ll be quoting, consider these interviewing techniques from Ken Metzler’s book Creative Interviewing: The Writer's Guide to Gathering Information by Asking Questions:
- Ask for anecdotes. Is there a real-world example you can use to enliven your quotes?
- Ask for metaphors. How does the product or service compare to something familiar to your readers?
- Listen for crossroads and epiphanies. What led to the creation of the product or service? What were the stumbling blocks along the way? When did they realize it would work?
- Ask follow-up questions. If the interview is over and you don’t have what you need for a good quote, ask more questions.
- Make your quotes worth quoting. Keep the language conversational and free of jargon. Paraphrase when possible. Ask probing questions.
We hope this helps you. Using these four tips on your next press release may keep your client’s voice from being quickly forgotten to long remembered.
By Nicole Hayes
Nicole Hayes brings a strong background in consumer outreach, partnership development and media relations to McKinney & Associates. Many of her communications strategies were cultivated during her work with international public relations agency Fleishman Hillard Inc., where she developed and implemented strategies and media relations outreach for large consumer and government clients.
With her skilled foundation, Nicole sought a career to support her core belief that people make the best investments and launched her own D.C.-based media relations consultancy, Pieces of Life, to serve small businesses and non-profit organizations. She is committed to the mission that drives McKinney and its clients.