8 tips to help PR pros write better quotes
Oh, quotes. Why are these two or three sentences so hard to formulate?
Sometimes they are the most time-consuming sections of documents we put together, like press releases and speeches (in the case of the latter, there’s a lot of focus on making sure there are short, impactful segments throughout).
Through experience, feedback and education, I've collected helpful tidbits to create quoteworthy statements and help get through the occasional struggle. I hope they're a good reference for you too (consider it a PR gift this holiday season).
Here's a collection of anatomical components that make a good quote.
1. First, keep in mind that a quote is the only place where you can editorialize
The body should be facts-based, which helps reporters put together their stories. In a press release, quotes should be the only section in which companies can editorialized any information.
2. Answer the question, “Why is this important?”
Quotes should put the announcement, event or milestone into the broader context of the industry, company or climate. Include the rationale of the news in this section so stakeholders understand the impact.
3. Make sure the quote adds color and context, not just repeats what has already been said
I often see the error where quotes reiterate the announcement. That's a mistake. They should be complementary and provide context and color.
4. Remember that every segment within a quote needs to portray the person or company in the best light
Does this sound familiar? “They only took a piece of the statement. That quote is totally out of context!” To avoid hearing that, quotes should be carefully reviewed to ensure that every section, no matter how it may be sliced, is effective.
5. Keep it pithy
Keep it concise and to the point. Otherwise, it loses impact and looks like a ramble. Shorter quotes are also easier to remember.
6. The author has to be someone relevant
This may be an obvious one, but the spokesperson has to be familiar with and involved in the situation. Attention should be paid to make sure the author is the most relevant.
7. A quote can be used to address concerns or correct facts
In a sensitive situation, what do you want to make sure stakeholders understand? A quote or statement is where you can ensure that your key messages get across, and sometimes it's about addressing concerns or correcting misinformation.
8. The quote can be aspirational or inspirational (or both)
Similar to adding context, a quote can address how the announcement gets a company to its goals. In a message to employees of a company, being inspirational and aspirational should be an important consideration.
Julia Sahin works in financial communications at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She plans on doing big things. Connect with her on Twitter. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s.
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