I cringe 90 percent of the time whenever I read the direct quotes in a press release. They’re usually so obviously canned, and dull, dull, dull.
The quote usually starts, “We’re delighted to….” Tell us something we didn’t know. The quote then goes downhill from there, meandering into a long paragraph of pallid palaver no human would speak. Like the recipient of an Academy Award, the speaker goes on to thank everyone from his mom on down, anyone who could have helped in making this “great success” possible.
It’s too bad most quotes are so silly. A good quote or two can advance your cause.
Think like a journalist
A good release should read like a news story and avoid commercialism in the main text – rules that most releases violate, putting off readers who want information, not a baloney sandwich.
Quotes – along with the boilerplate at the end – are the only places where you can sneak in your marketing message. Since it’s a named person who’s speaking in the quote, not the impersonal third-person voice of the release, it’s OK to put in some marketing spin in the quote. (But for heavens sake, don’t overdo it.)
How can you get a good quote?
Start out by briefly interviewing the people involved – the key executive or expert at your organization or client, or, if another organization is an important part of the story, someone there. Real people usually say much more interesting things than anything you can make up.
If it’s not feasible to interview the principals, use a little creativity. Imagine what a living breathing person might have to say about this exciting, interesting piece of news. Tell readers something they can’t get in the rest of the release.
Keep ‘em brief and pithy. One or two sentences per quote – three tops – is plenty.
If you feel that coming up with a good quote is impossible, just skip it. It’s far better to have no quotes in a release than inflating it with trite gas.