Crafting Effective Quotes for Media Releases

Strong quotations can add value, credibility and depth to news releases.

Commonly accepted guidelines for news releases include using the style, content and tone of news articles and feature stories. This makes a release more compatible with media outlets' styles.

Additionally, a news release or feature article posted on an organization’s website is as likely to be viewed by the general public as reporters. This makes it even more important that PR-generated content reflect the qualities of published work.

Since quotes are an integral part of journalistic writing, they must be a part of a good news release.

Adding Quote Impact

Rather than including basic factual information in a quote, use them to touch on a news item's significance, encourage people to act or add perspective that strengthen the story.

The tone of news releases and quotations should be straightforward and objective. Superlatives and claims come across as persuasive marketing or advertising. As such, temper phrases such as "the greatest,” "the leading," “the most effective” and "the best.”

Similarly, excessive hype in a quote can diminish its believability and lessen the likelihood of pick up. However, substantive information or data can draw attention to a quote, increasing its potential use.

A quotation can help build the public positioning of an executive or leader within an organization, industry or field. Moreover, including a statement from a third party or a customer can enhance a press release or article and add an independent perspective.

For example, when announcing a corporate donation to a nonprofit, include a quote from the nonprofit's leader, mentioning how the contribution will be used.

Making a Quote Quotable

Avoid stating the obvious by beginning a quote with phrases such as:

  • “We are delighted to announce …”
  • “We are pleased to introduce…”
  • “We are excited (or happy) to..."

Even though these phrases may seem genuine, a better use of the space and words will explain why you are excited, pleased or happy. Use precise language that is descriptive beyond generic adjectives. Describe explicitly what makes something outstanding.

At the same time, think about the quote's source. Ensure that the tone, content and context fit the person quoted. Attributing information to a respected, credible individual adds importance and believability. This means some quotes might be less formal or more formal in tone than others.

Being sensitive to the nuance of the source and situation can make a difference in a quote's quotability. For instance, say the source has a well-known and distinctive voice, quotes should be authentic and reflect that voice.

Sometimes what management believes is important and the right thing to say conflicts with what works best in a news release. As noted earlier, superlatives and over-the-top comments may please executives, but are unlikely to gain a reporter's attention.

Tips for Writing and Editing Effective Quotes

When crafting quotations for a news release, keep the below in mind:

  • Write the way people talk. Be conversational and avoid trite language.
  • Avoid quotes that sound forced and imitative.
  • Use memorable phrasing.
  • Create a picture in the reader’s mind.
  • Meaningful insights and perspectives increase value and the likelihood media will use a quote.
  • Opinion is fine, but hype is counterproductive.
  • Avoid jargon, technical and scientific terms that might need explanation or definition.
  • Consider length: Say enough to convey a complete thought, but not too much.
  • Include information that adds detail and depth, not just basic facts that the body of the release should cover.
  • Use a straightforward style when attributing a quote. The verbs “said” and “says” help when attributing a quote. “According to,” “stated” and “commented” may fit better in a feature article than a news release.
  • As with anything you write, check facts and proofread.
  • Finally, double-check the name and spelling of cited sources.

Pauline A. Howes, Ph.D. is associate professor, School of Communication and Media, Kennesaw State University.

[Editor's Note: This article originally was featured in PRNEWS Writer’s Guidebook, Volume 2. It was lightly edited for length.]