Chapter 4: Advanced Guide
to Writing Powerful Press Releases
I’ve always said that a great press release should include a great quote from a company executive or industry expert. Reporters use these quotes all the time in news stories.
So why not you? Why not your company? Let’s take a look at some ways to make your quotes stand out.
1. Quote Guidelines
KISS! Keep it short and simple. Your press release space is prime real estate – legitimate newswires charge by the word! Use your quote to add new angles to the story, not re-hash what you have already said.
Your release does not need to be littered with quotation marks. If one quote is all you have, you need to make that one quote count.
Include full name and title
Always provide the full name of the person you are quoting and their title/credentials. If you do happen to include a second quote, you can just use the person’s last name.
Practice good grammar
The quickest way to get a press release thrown out is to use poor grammar, or have spelling errors.
I want to point out a few key grammar points you want to follow when putting your quote into the release:
- Put the comma inside the quotation marks.
- Always capitalize the first word of your quote.
- If the quote ends the sentence, put the period inside the quotation marks.
Place the quote in the body, not the lead
Your lead should always focus on the 5W content (who, what, where, when, and why) and not a quote.
However, if you have a quote that accomplishes everything a lead should, go for it.
Make your quote content-rich
Here are some ideas of content-rich topics:
- News impact on community
- Call specific attention to an action/event
- Add in a hint of self-promotion without being sale-sy
- Share insight into a solution
Bottom line: make sure your quote adds value to your release, and that it’s not just a quote for the sake of a quote.
Never take a quote out of context
Always use the quote in the original context. It is an ethics issue and could potentially lead to a libel case.
If you’re using a quote from someone within your own company/organization (or yourself), this won’t be an issue.
2. Quotes That Work (And Don’t Work)
|Quotes That Work||Quotes That Don’t Work||Explanation|
|“Relying on composite images to help diagnose patients with injuries that can’t be seen has always been a limitation, and current technology always just looks at how to make the previous technology better, not at what a doctor needs,” says CEO Susan Shays. “Our new software is a whole new kind of imaging system that eliminates the diagnostic gap between a patient and an image.”||“Our new imaging software can help physicians and other health care officials a whole lot,” says CEO Susan Shays.||The first adds a new perspective and answers the question, why? The second is dull. The value is not unique or robust.|
|Penny Banker, CEO of Loan USA says, “We are always looking to improve ways to serve our clients, and Money Wizard will increase loan processing speed by 40%.”||“We are really, really excited to be adding this super-fabulous offer as it is setting us up to provide wonderfully fast loans in a whole lot less time,” said Penny Banker, a loan specialist. “It’s great!”||Quote 2 is full of self-promotion and doesn’t convey much content of value.|
|The headline is about Valentine’s Day…|
“Japanese flowers are a unique alternative to traditional roses this Valentine’s Day, and I’m just encouraging couple’s to be a little bit more creative with their flower choices this February,” says Rose Pinewood, owner of Japanese Flowers on Main.
|The headline is about Valentine’s Day…|
“The Japanese flower has been used for over 500 years and it has a peculiar shape, smell, and color that gives off calming vibes and helps the flower owner meditate,” says Rose Pinewood, owner of Japanese Flowers on Main.
|Make sure your quote is 100% relevant. The second quote is not. The history of a flower does not belong in the holiday-themed press release. Keep it centered directly on the headline (which in this case was Valentine’s Day).|
3. Ways to Get Your Quote Noticed
Why does content go viral?
Simple: fresh, unique content that stands out from the crowd. Want to get quoted in the news? Make your quote stand out!
An important thing to know about quotes is that the media generally won’t use them unless they are evocative, fresh, or state something in a way that would be very difficult to paraphrase. To ensure your quote finds a home in a story based on your announcement, avoid cliches or generalizations.
One surefire way to achieve getting noticed is through the use of contrarian and controversial quotes.
A contrarian quote goes against popular opinion. Here are some examples:
says Arthur Dent, President of Skinny Jeans Inc.
wonders for consumers,” says Ford Prefect,
CEO of BigRemotes.
Why does it work?
When everyone is foretelling doom and gloom, the news MUST offer a contrary opinion. When everyone is praising a particular trend, the news MUST offer a contrary opinion.
If you can be the person to provide a relevant, contrary opinion about news in your niche, your chances of being quoted increase significantly.
Controversial content is subjective, but the ultimate goal is to encourage disagreement. Controversy leads to conversation. Controversial quotes lead to press releases that get noticed.
Journalists thrive on sharing news that catches attention, and adding a controversial quote can help the journalist with his/her mission, and it can help make your release stand out. It’s a win-win situation.
Let’s look at some examples.
says Mark Zumachik, CEO of Widget
Sanitizer. “What a wake-up call!”
says Scott Pilfrey of Hondo Hummers. “Humans have
nothing to do with it.”
Why does it work?
Again, it stands out. It adds a zesty touch to the article and it will likely make a reporter pause, think, and, perhaps, share the story with their readers.
Bottom line: go against the grain, get noticed.
Express an opinion that isn’t popular; media outlets need to represent these opinions, but not necessarily claim them as their own.
4. Quotes That Stick
Let’s tie it all together. Here are ten quotes from press releases that got the job done.
“We are pleased that we have established a legacy in the foodservice industry because of our innovative, state-of-the-art FRZQK© processing methodology and our ability to capitalize on cryogenic freezing technology to meet customer needs,” said John Jones, EVP, FRZ/ITM product line management, FreezQuik Foods, Ltd. “We will continue to push the envelope in delivering industry-leading products because our customers know we care about their health.”
“States and districts all over the country are addressing this challenge differently, some with the Common Core and others with different higher-bar curriculum requirements,” says Hartl. “But the one thing these all have in common is that they are setting a new standard of rigor and accountability for students. And these standards demand a shift in thinking – among everyone involved in education – about literacy and what it will take to transform it.”
“Many kids today are facing an uphill battle when it comes to eating right and understanding how to maintain healthy habits,” said Daryl Edmonds, president of Amerigroup in Washington. “The Triple Play program and Boys & Girls Clubs are working to educate and help make healthy choices easier for kids. Through the program we are building a solid foundation of learning with activities that will help kids continue healthy habits and exercise into their adult lives.”
Inner-City Arts President & CEO, Bob Smiland, remarked “This gift will help us continue to unlock the creative potential of thousands of children.”
World-renowned animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin reviewed the graphic undercover video footage and stated: “The handling of dairy cows in this video is not acceptable. Employees must be trained to never kick or hit a cow’s udder or face. High pressure water shot in the eye is abusive.”
“Power of One is a natural extension of our company’s commitment to the fight against malaria and I am very proud of the contributions Novartis associates have made to help children in Zambia,” said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. “Over the past decade, we have delivered 700 million antimalarial treatments without profit in malaria-endemic countries but more work is needed. We need to continue to step up efforts, not only by increasing access to antimalarials but also by researching next-generation treatments to move closer to our vision of a malaria-free world.”
“Supporting our servicemen and women is a cause we take seriously, as evidenced by a variety of veteran-focused programs and partnerships throughout the company,” said Greg Lehmkuhl, president of Con-way Freight. “No price can be put on the ability to call a loved one while deployed overseas, so we are proud to be a transportation partner for Cell Phones For Soldiers.”
“We can make a bigger difference in reducing the deaths among women from heart disease by fostering conversations between women and their doctors. Let’s make sure the women in our lives get heart checked,” adds Ronald O. Perelman, co-founder of the Women’s Heart Alliance.
“Finn Partners believes in Detroit’s renaissance and has supported the recovering Detroit economy through client partnerships since our inception. As one of the industry’s fastest growing PR agencies, we see tremendous potential in Detroit and we’re deepening our commitment by expanding local capabilities,” saidPeter Finn, founding partner.
“As we approach the holiday season, we wanted to show how much we appreciate our customers,” saidMichelle Miller, region president, Verizon Wireless. “We hope that our customers will take advantage of this day—a day to connect with family and friends, to learn something new about their device, or just to provide a little more entertainment during what can often be a hectic kick off to the holiday season.”
5. HARO Service
(Help a Reporter Out)
Finally, one last major resource that you may find helpful when writing press releases is HARO (Help A Reporter Out). This is an online service that journalists can use you get feedback from the general public.
You can check out their website here: http://www.helpareporter.com/
Basically, HARO connects journalists with people in niche areas, making it easier for them to acquire quotes and advice relevant to stories that they are writing.