"My attempt was to say in the time that he mentioned it, it was a distraction, because it was the decriminalization, legalization," said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
You've seen this kind of quote before, right? It doesn't make for very interesting reading, nor does it make Mayor Rawlings-Blake sound particularly insightful -- but unless Mayor Rawlings-Blake is talking reelection, she really doesn't have to worry about it too much.
But as an entrepreneur or small business owner, you do.
When you're sending out a press release or talking to a reporter about your business, you better believe that the quote you're using matters. In fact, it can make the difference between your story getting picked up and publicized and your release landing in the "circular file."
When putting together a press release, it can be difficult to find a quote that will get noticed and, more importantly, get printed. The obvious things like correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar will help, but what else can a writer do to make sure their quotes are taken seriously and their businesses mentioned in a story?
Quotes that KISS
First, keep it simple. A short, impactful statement is more likely to catch attention than flowery prose about nothing. Great quotes share insight, call attention to an event or activity, or give an update on something that impacts your intended audience.
Let's consider another quote:
"The EMT Jacket's patented multi-pocket system is already being employed by emergency medical professionals across the country, helping them save time and save lives," says CEO Lydia Brunch.
Notice how in that brief statement the CEO not only plugged her product, but did so in a manner that was compelling, short, sweet, and to the point? When writing a quote or talking to a reporter, remember to KISS -- Keep It Short and Sweet.
"While most people saw Ebola as a tragedy, we saw it as an opportunity," Chairperson Roberta Shocks says. "Sani-Hands Gel will soon be carried by many health workers going overseas."
Quotes like the one above catch people's attention, which is, in essence, a great reporter's job. Their mission is to get people to read and talk about what they have written. A controversial quote does just that -- it gets people talking.
While it may sound a little bone-headed at first, taking the opportunity to put an opinion into your quote that a majority of people may not find agreeable has worked wonders for business professionals in the past. Reporters always need to represent both sides of an story, which isn't always easy to do. If you have a quote that fills that need -- you're golden.
It goes without saying, of course, to use some caution here. Notice how the product in the quote above had a direct tie into the issue being opined. If your product or service doesn't have a stake in what you're about to make a quote on, it's probably best not to venture an opinion. Likewise: don't be obscene or crude.
Quotes with proper grammar, punctuation and spelling get read. Brief quotes that have insightful, interesting information get attention. Snappy quotes that are well written, that include news that may impact the intended audience, or share a controversial opinion get printed and passed around. (And that's the ultimate goal, isn't it?)
Some pitfalls to watch out for:
- Don't share a quote that could be taken out of context, or that attack other people. You could end up facing a libel suit.
- Don't use too many quotes. If your press release is crowded with quotations, how will one stand out?
- Always use the full name and title of the person you are quoting.
- Don't make a quote the lead or the headline, put in the body of the press release. Even the shortest and most well-written quotes are too wordy for this.
Follow these rules and you may see your quote above the fold!
For more tips and advice on getting attention from the media, download the free eReleases guide on how to write a press release.
About the author: Mickie Kennedy is the founder of eReleases PR. He lives in Baltimore, MD.