Reporters hate PR quotes
What’s the least important element in a release — less important even than the dateline or the boilerplate?
Quotes, say one in four reporters surveyed in a study by Greentarget. According to Greentarget’s research:
- 13% of journalists never use quotes from releases.
- 31% rarely use quotes from releases.
- 28% use quotes from releases only when they’re on deadline and can’t get an interview.
- 28% use quotes from releases regularly.
What’s their beef?
- 50% complain that the language doesn’t sound natural.
- 34% say the quotes aren’t substantive enough.
- Only 9% have no complaints about the quotes.
“Please don’t make me wade through a bunch of boilerplate, taglines and patting-ourselves-on-the-back quotes to find out if the news release is relevant,” begs one journalist surveyed by Greentarget.
‘Don’t sound natural’
“Most quotes in press releases sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: ‘Wah wah wah wah.’”
— A frustrated PR pro
These aren’t unreasonable complaints, considering the wah wah that passes for quotes in releases these days.
How do you get the wah wah out of your release quotes? Make quotes:
- Short. Write like The New York Times: Keep quotes to 20 words, on average, without attribution. And make your most common quote length seven words or less.
- Rare. Don’t use quotes to convey basic information. Most of the time, paraphrase.
- Personable. Write quotes that sound human, not like a computer spit them out.
- Creative. Quotes should sound like more than just the most basic parts of human speech. Make your executive seem eloquent — even interesting — with alliteration and other rhetorical techniques.
How can you write PR quotes that get quoted?
Reporters rank quotes the least important element in a news release — after the boilerplate and the dateline.
Learn to turn lame-ass quotes into scintillating sound bites that reporters will actually use at NOT Your Father’s PR Writing — our media relations-writing workshop starting July 12.
There, you’ll steal techniques from Silver Anvil winners for making your sound bites sound better … learn how to transform your quotations from bleh to brilliant … and steal tricks from The New York Times to avoid overquoting.
Plus: Find out how to avoid the worst PR quote clichés (PR Newswire sees 1,284 of these in a single month.)
Save up to $100 with our group discounts.