By Mickie Kennedy
Bill Clinton said, “You should always have a good quote in your press release to capture the attention of readers and keep scissor-happy editors away.” Ok, he didn’t actually say that, at least to my knowledge. But you paid attention immediately, right?
That’s what a great quote can do. Fake Bill Clinton has it right; if your quote is memorable and relevant enough, not only does it keep people reading but it can help ensure editors at your favorite newspapers and other media outlets won’t cut your company name out of the story. Here are a few tips to knock it out of the park.
Don’t Just Drop it Anywhere
Remember quotes typically go at the bottom of a press release. This is why they generally get clipped first when the editor comes around with the scissors. They’ll have a certain amount of space on the page they’re laying out and anything they deem unworthy is going to fall to the floor.
Just throwing the quote at the top won’t naturally alleviate this issue. Rather than clip the quote from the bottom they’re just going to cut it off from the top. That is to say they will if your quote isn’t solid enough. If it’s indispensable enough, your quote will stand. Goofing with the placement won’t necessarily help you.
While you might not worry too much about the quote itself, the real issue is your company name. Unfortunately sometimes the editor will also cut out your company name deeming it “unnecessary,” meaning you won’t get credit for the press release. This means the effects of the press release could be lessened if potential customers don’t know who it’s by.
While you shouldn’t have quotes at the “top of the pyramid,” that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be dead last. In fact, if you want to keep them around, it might be better to keep them more in the middle. Editors are naturally going to start at the bottom of the press release to chip away information so anything at the bottom is fair game.
Make it Vital
The trick, then, is to make the quote not all very relevant but vital to the story. For example, if your press release is about the rise of car crashes due to faulty steering wheel covers, you want to get your CEO’s quote in there that ties it all together with your new steering wheel cover line.
However, if the quote is simply “you should buy our products,” it will get cut – or, worse, ignored. The CEO’s quote need to be something substantial that truly adds to the press release. If the editor sees cutting the quote will hurt the story then it has a better chance of staying in.
Keep in mind that bloggers, reporters, and anyone with the ability to influence a large group of people have already gone through a pile of releases before they’ve come to yours. Chances are that the quotes in all of those other articles are mere pleas for attention and sales – a sales pitch dressed up as a quote.
The simple act of being aware of this danger already puts you miles ahead of your competition, but here are a couple of time-tested tricks that may help:
One trick is to use numbers. For instance your CEO could say “Our independent study showed that 47% of car crashes came from faulty steering wheel covers. That’s why Smooth Sailing Inc. went back to the drawing board with our new line of covers. We want to protect our customers from preventable accidents.” This way not only is the quote in there but the company is as well.
People love numbers, and as a small business owner and PR expert it’s your job to get familiar with them.
Another trick is to be a jerk. No, really, hear me out!
News and social media can so often be an echo-chamber of like-minded opinions that the company to come out and say something they know everyone will disagree with is going to be well-quoted and sought-after. Be careful, though. It’s a fine line to walk. There are obviously subjects and taboos that not only don’t fall under the purview of your expertise, but could wind up earning your business some bad associations.
What’s the best quote you’ve ever seen in a press release?