How to elicit compelling quotes for your press release


Ever been challenged to write quotes for your press releases? I’m sure many a PR or marketer can relate.

Maybe your CEO is impossible to get hold of, so it’s up to you to write something generic. Maybe you follow an old press release formula, so you wheel out the same bland quote, rehashed each time. Maybe your spokespeople are reluctant to speak out, unwilling to give an opinion or salient insight lest it rock the boat.

It’s amazing how little acclaim is given to the humble press release quote. It’s often maligned and wedged in as an afterthought or, worse, as filler. The truth is that a good quote can make or break your PR campaign.

Extracting even a paragraph of pertinent thoughts from senior executives can feel like trying to squeeze orange juice from a melon.

That leaves busy PR people flustered, frustrated and flailing around looking for something—anything—to pad out their release. It leads to canned, uninspiring quotes that take up valuable real estate and do nothing to advance your cause.

A good PR quote will draw readers into your story, provide a unique perspective and inject much-needed human context. This could mean the difference between getting your press release picked up-or not.

If coming up with quotes strikes fear into your heart, don’t panic. Here are best practices to help you elicit striking press release quotes:

What not to include:

Let’s start with the easy stuff. Get out your red pen and ruthlessly delete any of the following:

  • All jargon, irrelevant acronyms and business bloopers such as leading-edge, synergy, blue-sky-thinking, leverage, etc.
  • Anything you’ve already said in the press release. Quotes should expand your story, not rehash it.
  • Words such as thrilled, excited, delighted or proud-they have zero business value.

This quick sanity check will instantly help your press release sound less robotic and more engaging—increasing its newsworthiness tenfold.

As for the content:

1. Keep it short and punchy.

If you don’t have much to work with, a short sound bite is 100 percent more powerful than a flouncy sentence full of fluff.

“Our new CEO is in discussions to merge with our European counterparts,” will grab attention much faster than, “We are delighted that our new CEO has accepted this opportunity to explore new opportunities to expand our organization into Europe.”

Be punchy and concise: Get to the point in demonstrating the potential impact of your news.

Stick to your guns no matter what. Your executive committee may want to say how “delighted” they are, but remember this: SSQSC—Self-Serving Quotes Sacrifice Coverage.

2. Make an editor’s life easier.

Journalists are busier (and fewer) than ever. They’re deluged with hundreds of press releases every day and are under increasing pressure to increase traffic and keep up with the 24-hour news cycle.

They need content that saves time and legwork. If you write article-quality quotes, editors don’t have to call up to interview your spokesperson, nor waste precious minutes rewriting your text.

Understand newsjacking and learn how to make it work for your content when you download this free guide.

Take this example from The Guardian, featuring Domenico Vicinanza from Géant.

The journalist used our entire quote verbatim. That’s a ready-to-publish win for him, a sweet piece of coverage for us, and it’s much more interesting than: “We were proud to work with CERN on its 60th anniversary celebration.”

3. Generate newsworthy quotes.

For some marketing folk, half the battle of writing good quotes is gaining access to spokespeople.

Often those people are too busy or too nervous to put their opinions out there. The value they can add with a small amount of effort is disproportionate to the incredible coverage it could generate.

Here’s what to do:

  • Book 10 minutes with your spokesperson and meet face to face. No back-and-forth emails. No excuses.
  • Prepare a one-minute master class explaining that a lazy template quote could mean the difference between headline-worthy coverage and total radio silence.
  • Ask open-ended questions: How is this news beneficial? What was their decision-making process like? What is their perspective on the problem at hand?
  • When you put pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—use their language, so the quote sounds natural.

If your spokesperson really is too busy, you can still get a credible quote from someone equally knowledgeable within the company. It’s all about adding insight.

4. Use questions to find your story.

Not every piece of news is inspiring enough to make headlines; adding a compelling story element can liven things up.

If your company is providing Internet connectivity to a new country, ask: Why this country? Who is it helping? What sort of person will it benefit, and how will their life change as a result?

Questions—and the quotes they inspire—help you look beyond the features, facts and figures. Your relatively uninspiring news becomes a human interest story, extending its appeal to a wider audience.

So, next time you sit down to write a press release, consider putting the same amount of effort into your quote as you do your headline. Don’t let it go to waste.

Throw in positive key messages, and journalists will appreciate your efforts. They might even come back to you for more quotes on related stories. When that happens, you know you’ve cracked it.

Tam Henderson runs Gather Creative, a PR and copywriting agency in Cambridge, England. Get in touch @GatherCreative. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.


Keep Calm and Content On! 4 Ways to Write Compelling Content for Customer Nurturing


Author: Elaine Ip

Halloween has come and gone, but the fright isn’t over just yet. With its passing grows a sense of panic among consumer marketers everywhere. We are now in the busiest selling season of the year, with advertisements hitting consumers left to right. From those eagerly anticipated holiday sales to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, consumers are receiving floods of communication every day. What will make your message stand out from the masses?

Determining how to nurture your customers is a good start, but for your message to really catch their eye, you need to have compelling content.

Follow these 4 guidelines to create content that resonates with your customers:

1. Trust is a Must

Without any personal affiliations with your customer, your words (in this case, your content) are what they hold you to. And nothing speaks louder than words than your actions. Make sure that your marketing strategy and activities deliver on what you promise. If you offer them a coupon, fulfill it. If your customer asks to be unsubscribed from your mailing list, remove them. If you don’t, not only will it hurt your credibility, but you’ll start to see less engagement and, ultimately, less conversions.

 2. Identify Your John and Jane Doe

Understand who your target audience is so you can tailor your content to be relevant, interesting, and timed specifically for them. In this new digital age, customers share their information with you and in turn expect you to use it wisely. Use the data you’ve collected to properly segment and target your audience in order to build trust and relevance. Given the upcoming holidays and my affinity for buying beauty products, Sephora has nailed this down–targeting their audience *raises hand* with the right content.

holiday palette

On the flip side, I’ve been receiving emails lately with the subject line: Senior Apartment Listings in Your Area. Since it’s outside my demographic, you can probably imagine how annoying these have been. Impersonal and poorly timed messages make your customers question whether you even know who they are or understand them. Relevant customer nurturing is all about timing and the ability to demonstrate that you understand your customer.

3. Be in the Right Place

Consumers shift across channels throughout the day. Fine-tune your customer nurturing strategy for multi-channel engagement. Remember to be mindful of the content you put out on each channel to ensure that your customer experience is optimized and personal. Customers expect their experience to be a seamless, continuous conversation across channels and it’s your job to ensure this happens.

In the example below, you can see the shoe retailer Sole Society advertises their Cammila loafer to a select audience on Instagram. Then later on Facebook, their ad targeting offers me the same shoe in a different pattern. Instead, I clicked on a Business Insider article and Sole Society was there once more via another advertisement to continue the conversation with me–finally convincing me to click through to shop.

Cross Channel Marketing

One of my favorite (and most dangerous) pastimes is online shopping. There’s nothing better than having access to a plethora of inventory at just the click of a mouse. Once in a while, even if I’ve already decided to buy an item, something comes up that distracts me and I won’t follow through and check out. With multi-channel marketing, I’ll receive an email a few days later reminding me about my abandoned item. “Still thinking this over? You have some great stuff in your Shopping Bag.” Thank you Nordstrom, I think so too! Time to check out!


 4. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Justify your marketing spend. Your customer nurturing program needs to be measurable so that you can consistently track your progress and look for ways to improve it. Define the right set of metrics, review and adjust your nurture tracks along the way, and finally report your success.

Since email is a large part of most customer nurturing programs, here are the 7 most common email metrics that you may want to track:

  1. Sent – emails that actually moved through your engagement marketing platform
  2. Delivered – emails that were sent and not rejected by a receiving server
  3. Bounced – messages that were permanently rejected (hard bounce) and messages that were temporarily rejected (soft bounce)
  4. Opened – recipients who opened (viewed) the email
  5. Clicked – subscribers who clicked on a link, button, or image within your message
  6. Unsubscribed – contacts who clicked the “unsubscribe” link in an email and then followed through to successfully opt out
  7. Marked as Spam – subscribers who reported your email as spam

Take a step back and test your content on yourself. If you had received this from another company, how would you respond? Does it tell a continuous story? Would you open it and click through? Or would you unsubscribe or mark it as spam? Let’s not be biased here. By checking your content for these measures, you can ensure that your nurture campaigns aren’t going to waste.

With customer nurturing, you can build effective relationships with consumers throughout their buying journey. Embrace these best practices and watch your customers move along the purchase cycle! For a comprehensive description of customer nurturing best practices, check out our Definitive Guide to Customer Nurturing.

Have you seen an example of excellent customer nurturing in action? Or do you have tips to add? Please share them in the comments section below.


Keep Calm and Content On! 4 Ways to Write Compelling Content for Customer Nurturing was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. |

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