Why most press release quotes are unreadable—and how to fix them

Quotes are a necessary part of a press release, but too often they’re dull and as a result, ignored by readers. But you have the power to change that.

One of the most important parts of a press release is the quote.

You can’t have a good press release without at least one or two quotes from a reputable, connected source. For a business press release, this could come from a company spokesperson, the CEO, a valued customer, or another expert in the field.

Failing to include the quote detracts from the legitimacy and the more human aspect of your release.

However, while most people understand that quotes are essential, the vast majority of the quotes are boring and add nothing to the press release. If you removed them, the person reading the release wouldn’t lose a thing.

Most press release quotes are so bad, because:

1. Company executives want to keep things safe and not rock the boat.
2. People are in a hurry and don’t want to dig deeper for something pertinent to say.
3. Press release writers often manufacture the quotes for their clients.

It’s point number No. 3 that I’d like to focus on for a moment.

Regardless of the type of writing, the author holds all the power within his or her pen (or keyboard). The writer has complete license to mold the piece in whatever way he or she sees fit. This logic is traditionally reserved for fiction, but it can be deployed in press releases. Most press release writers manufacture quotes for people, who approve them.

So, by and large, these writers are to blame for the pitiful quotes.

On the other hand, that should offer us hope, because writers have the power to change this practice. We can create quotes that will actually add to our press releases. But how? Well …

Drop the jargon. This is a standard rule of copywriting and it applies here. Business executives love to use industry words and acronyms, but no one else understands them. Instead, translate the quotes into real life language.

Keep them conversational. When someone reads the quote, it should feel like it came from an actual interview—an actual conversation; not like you made it up (even if you did). Break it up. No one wants to read a book. If the quote is too long, your audience won’t finish it. Again, a standard copywriting rule applies here. Cut the text (quote) into smaller chunks so it’s easier to chew and digest.

Lend an opinion. Press releases are supposed to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. However, a quote can be an opinion. So if you need to sneak in a bit of personal opinion to help push the product, this is the only place to do it.

Change how you reference the speaker. “She said” gets old real fast and is the mark of a novice writer. Switch it up. “According to” and “she commented” work well.

Try a different approach. Sometimes direct and to the point is not the key. Maybe you need something different , such as a clever metaphor. Make sure it has some character to it. If the quote sounds generic, as if it could be inserted in any press release, it lacks character.

Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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