It’s a common mistake in PR: including executive quotes that derail the overall message and cause reporters to toss your press release into the circular file. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
PR execs can be forgiven if they include a big, fat quote from the boss in a news release. After all, it’s the boss talking. But as far as getting the message communicated effectively, these quotes can be an impediment.
In a digital era—when information is frequently digested in abbreviated form—PR pros need to think a bit differently about executive quotes, and indeed, the whole process of creating press releases.
Executive quotes are usually bland, insincere and meaningless, said Andrew Hindes, president and founder of The In-House Writer, who spoke at PR News’ Writing Boot Camp earlier this month in San Francisco.
Hindes offered a notebook full of recommendations on how to make executive quotes stand out in press releases, along with accompanying examples from the late Steve Jobs, who was a master of business communications.
> Brand personality: Use colorful, colloquial language to communicate a sense of individuality, passion, fun and even humor.
Example: “We made the buttons on the screen look so good you'll want to lick them.” —Jobs on the Mac OS X Aqua user interface, from Fortune.
> Bold statements: An executive quote can sometimes get away with provocative statements or predictions.
Example: “We believe it's the biggest advance in animation since Walt Disney started it all with the release of Snow White 50 years ago.”—Jobs on Pixar’s Toy Story, from Fortune.
> Positioning and context: Use quotes to “connect the dots” and help readers reach a conclusion that may not be obvious from the facts alone.
Example: “It took 74 days to sell the first 1 million original iPhones, so the new iPhone 3G is clearly off to a great start around the world.” —Jobs in a press release announcing sales of 1 million iPhone 3Gs in its first weekend.
Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1