One of the ongoing travesties in public relations? Press release quotes. Looked upon as a necessary evil by most writers, the vast majority are trite, boring and amount to a giant missed storytelling opportunity and unnecessary word count.
Case in point: the word thrilled. “I’m thrilled …”, “We’re thrilled …,” Our company is thrilled …,”. Let’s assume once and for all that if an entity is issuing a positive news press release, everyone involved is excited to share this announcement, otherwise they wouldn’t be making it. Let Captain Obvious do his job and stop wasting words.
The head of marketing is thrilled she landed an A-list celebrity to headline a new brand campaign? Cool. Whoever would have guessed? To reinforce my point, go to PR Newswire on any given day, run a search for the word “thrilled,” and you’ll be greeted by an endless stream of cookie cutter press release quotes (go on, it’s fun).
What should we do with press release quotes instead? Here are much stronger uses, in order of personal preference:
- Anecdotes! Use the quote to deliver behind-the-scenes color and bring the story to life. Particularly from a high-ranking figure, quotes are a gold mine to pique media interest with something fun and entertaining they would otherwise have no access to. Consider the following fictional examples.
Boring: “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with XYZ nonprofit,” said Jane Doe, Company CEO.
Awesome: “I took a lunch meeting with Mary Sanchez, XYZ nonprofit’s founder, as a favor to a friend who failed to warn me how contagious her enthusiasm and drive are. Three hours later, she and I had scribbled our way through dozens of napkins sketching out the possibilities of a partnership that today became a reality,” said Jane Doe, Company CEO.
- Share a relative factoid, followed by an opinion. Opinions are tricky in press releases, which are fact-based and must be cleared by your legal team. But opinions are not facts, and aren’t held to the same scrutiny, so quotes are a perfect place to inject sentiment. It works especially well to couple an interesting data point (media love numbers) within the quote. Rolling right along with my fictional nonprofit, here a few quote-worthy examples:
“In our community, surveys show the nutritional needs of one in six children are not met,” said Jane Doe, Company CEO. “This is not acceptable. Our partnership with XYZ nonprofit will make great strides in lowering this number and improving the well-being of many children throughout our city.”
“No one is as passionate about child hunger as XYZ charity is,” said Jane Doe, Company CEO. “One in six children in our community currently go hungry, and that is one too many. I believe, through our partnership with XYZ charity, it’s a realistic goal to get that number to zero.”
- Relay a high-level key message. Short of an anecdote or need to deliver an opinion, use the space wisely to relay an important talking point. All too often, quotes are snooze fests, as they are treated as mundane, yet mandatory inclusion because “the CEO needs to be quoted.”
In the press release hierarchy, paragraph one is your hook, paragraph two is your most important supporting message, and paragraph three is your second most important supporting message. Typically, the quote should land as paragraph two or three, and thus logically, be used to relay those corresponding key points and advance the story. You waste precious word space and attention span when you don’t economize your writing—always kill two birds with one stone where you can. Examples:
- XYZ Nonprofit and Company formed a partnership to help address childhood hunger in the local community
- Under the partnership, Company will provide logistical support for meal inventory and distribution, building on XYZ’s decades of work to combat childhood hunger
- By tapping into Company’s technologies, the partnership will allow XYZ to more cost-efficiently distribute groceries to the families it serves, allowing them to help even more residents throughout the community
Press Release Opening:
May 15—Anytown, USA—High-tech will help combat hunger, thanks to a new partnership between Company and XYZ nonprofit. The partnership efforts will leverage emerging technology to better meet the nourishment needs of children throughout the community, as studies show one in six currently lack access to reliable daily meals.
“As a leader in logistics, lending our technology to XYZ nonprofit will help it greatly increase the number of families they serve, by cutting down on overhead and using those funds on the most important thing—food,” commented Jane Doe, CEO. “Leveraging Company’s inventory AI platform, paired with our efficiency-focused distribution network, will reduce XYZ’s operating budget by at least $1 million, allowing it to support an additional 300 families throughout the year.”
So, when you are tasked with writing your company’s or client’s next press release, keep the above tips in mind to help craft a winning release and well-used press release quote. I promise, your boss will be thrilled.