Quotes are a common element of a press release, designed to showcase the thought process, or impact, of your big news. But crafting the perfect quote can be daunting. You want your quote to convey so much – the excitement of the news, the emotional impact of your news on your audiences, your strong opinion on a topic. So why do so many PR pros fall back on the old, formulaic approach to the press release quote? Does this formula work? Honestly? No. In fact, most quotes within a press release are blatantly ignored by readers and reporters alike.

To help us understand the power of quotes and how desperately they need to be revised, we turned to the industry’s leading expert, CEO of Wylie Communications, Ann Wylie.

Ann’s recipe for writing scintillating quotes boils down to four easy steps:

  1. Write Shorter, Punchier Quotes “When it comes to sound bites, one sentence is usually enough, two is okay, and three is too long,” Ann recommends. Today’s quotes are way too long! Follow Ann’s 1-2-3 Rule and capture the essence of a statement. Ann recommends using curated quotes – short phrases, often featuring powerful words, that state your position in an obvious and stark manner. Ensure these snippets include meaningful data or insights to make the quote substantive, avoiding overly promotional language to maintain credibility.

  2. Reduce the Number of Quotes “When we over-quote, we select quotes less carefully,” Ann explains. There’s no real need for PR teams to use multiple, similar quotes to support their story. This hurts the press release in a couple of different ways. Too many quotes distract the reader and muddle the points you're trying to make. When you don't limit the number of quotes, they will often be of lower quality compared to one or two strong quotes that communicate your point. Choose – or write – more engaging, quality quotes that, when used sparingly, add context to the announcement.

  3. Humanize Your Quotes "Boring, wordy quotes often feature corporate speak; impactful quotes embrace emotion and drive reporters to want to know more," says Ann. Write quotes that speak the language of your audience, not ones that sound machine-generated. Focus less on yourself and more on who and what you’re impacting. Skip quotes highlighting leadership’s excitement. Instead, opt for quotes detailing the impact on end-users. As with many details in a press release, ask yourself why your reader should care and answer that question using a pointed quote, in relatable language.

  4. Display Creativity in Your Quotes "Don't be afraid to use wordplay and humor to elevate your news release quotes and catch the reader's attention," Ann encourages. Stand apart from similar, formulaic claims that people have heard before and will gloss over. While it may be easy to cut and paste quotes about a new CEO or team member announcement, try to write quotes that will grab your reader's attention. Of course a new employee is excited about their new position - but why should your readers care? Metaphors and analogies are a great way to drive deeper connections with your readers. The best PR quotes simplify complex concepts and tag at heartstrings. 

Expanding the Source Pool

Expanding the source pool in a press release means incorporating diverse stakeholder voices to enhance credibility and engage a wider audience. Here’s how to effectively broaden your source pool:

  • Include Various Stakeholders: Utilize quotes from employees at different levels, customers, industry experts, and partners to provide a comprehensive and relatable perspective.
  • Showcase Diversity and Inclusion: Reflect a range of ages, ethnic backgrounds, and genders in the voices included, enriching the narrative and broadening appeal.
  • Utilize Quotes to Illustrate Impact: Encourage stakeholders to discuss the specific impact of the news, tying abstract elements to tangible outcomes.
  • Address Potential Concerns: Feature quotes that preempt skepticism and clarify complex issues, fostering trust and understanding.
  • Use Quotes for Storytelling: Strategically place quotes to build a narrative arc, with each stakeholder highlighting different aspects like problems, solutions, and benefits.
  • Maintain Authenticity: Ensure quotes reflect the true voice of the speaker, avoiding excessive editing that makes them sound unnatural.

Crafting and Refining Quotes

Ensure that each quote reflects the authentic voice of the speaker, tailored for the context in which they speak. This alignment enhances believability and connects more deeply with the audience. In crafting these quotes, prioritize a conversational tone, avoid jargon, and ensure the message is concise and complete.

  • Substantive Quotes: Include meaningful insights or data in quotes to add real value and relevance.
  • Conversational Tone: Ensure quotes sound natural and relatable as if the speaker is directly addressing the audience.
  • Avoid Jargon: Use clear, simple language to keep the content accessible and easily understood.
  • Conciseness: Keep quotes brief yet impactful, focusing on the essence of the message.
  • Emphasize Clarity: Ensure quotes are complete thoughts that contribute clearly to the press release's message.
  • Infuse Personality: Reflect the speaker's authentic voice and personality, making the quote resonate more genuinely.
  • Edit for Impact: Focus on structuring quotes to grab attention and highlight compelling elements.
  • Emotional Appeal: Where suitable, add emotional elements to connect more deeply with the audience.
  • Story Alignment: Make sure each quote supports the story’s angle and narrative progression.
  • Review and Refine: Continuously evaluate and adjust quotes to align with the overall goals and flow of the release.

Emphasizing Storytelling

View quotes not merely as informational elements but as vibrant parts of storytelling that can emotionally engage the audience. This approach transforms the press release from a mere announcement into a compelling narrative that resonates with readers.

  • Narrative Purpose: Ensure each quote serves a purpose in advancing the story, whether it's introducing a problem, offering a solution, or highlighting the benefits of your news.
  • Engaging Elements: Craft quotes that captivate readers by infusing them with vivid imagery, compelling anecdotes, or emotional appeal.
  • Character Development: Use quotes to develop the personalities of the individuals involved, making them relatable and memorable to the audience.
  • Arc and Flow: Arrange quotes in a sequence that creates a narrative arc, leading the reader through a compelling journey from start to finish.
  • Connection to Audience: Tailor quotes to resonate with the audience's values, aspirations, or concerns, forging a deeper connection and fostering engagement.
  • Consistency and Coherence: Ensure quotes align with the overall tone and theme of the press release, maintaining coherence and reinforcing the storytelling framework.
  • Visual Imagery: Paint a vivid picture through quotes, allowing readers to visualize scenes, scenarios, or outcomes, enhancing the storytelling experience.
  • Ending Impact: Conclude the press release with a quote that leaves a lasting impression, reinforcing the key message or call to action and prompting further engagement.

By implementing these tips from Ann Wylie, we know PR teams can benefit from a creative, human approach to quotes that help journalists frame stories in a more exciting way and, ultimately, build stronger connections among all audiences.

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Download our guide: How to Craft Quotable Quotes in Press Releases

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