Stop quoting every VP
You’ve read the kvetching about overdoing corporate quotes:
“Sprinkling quotes is one thing. Hosing them on is another.”
— John B. Campbell, former senior editor of Business Week
“I think of quotes as spices. Spices in themselves have no nutritional value. They make nutritious things taste better but, like spices, quotes should be used sparingly.”
— Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at The Washington Post
“Too many good ideas are buried in Dilbert-esque releases because … every corporate executive gets quoted.”
— Alison Harris, publisher, Call Center News
- You know that quotes slow web visitors down.
- You’ve read that journalists ranked quotes last — dead last, after even the dateline and the boilerplate — on the list of important elements in a press release, in a recent study by Greentarget.
- You know in your heart that your executive quotes are horrible.
So why do we keep running so many quotes?
To avoid overquoting:
1. Put a quota on quotes.
- Limit quotes to 12% of total word count. That’s the amount of space The New York Times devotes, on average, to quotes. How do we know? We analyzed the quotes in all of the stories, except sports coverage, in a single edition of the paper.
- Follow the one-in-three rule. That is, use no more than one quote every three paragraphs. Better: Use even fewer.
- Don’t be afraid to use no quotes. Some 18% of The New York Times stories we reviewed had no quotes.
 Jacqui Banaszynski, “Newswriting for the Web: Words That Work Online on Deadline,” A Poynter NewsU Webinar, Nov. 18, 2009
Write Killer Bites
Half of reporters complain that quotes in releases don’t sound natural, according to a recent Greentarget survey. Maybe that’s why 78% of them don’t regularly use quotes from releases.
No wonder! As one of my clients says, “Quotes in news releases sound like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon: ‘Wah wah wah wah.’”
At NOT Your Father’s News Release — our two-day PR-writing workshop in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17-18 — you’ll learn how to transform your quotations from bleh to brilliant.
You’ll steal techniques from Silver Anvil winners for making your sound bites sound better … and learn to avoid the worst PR quote clichés (PR Newswire sees 1,284 of these in a single month.)
Save $100 when you book by Sept. 14.