Tips for Using Quotes in Press Releases

Quotations can be a powerful tool for press release writers.

Quoting your brand’s thought leaders in a press release can give the media and your customers a glimpse into your organization’s personality, evoke strong imagery and emotions, and inspire action.

However, it’s easy to misuse quotations.

“Never start a press release with a quote unless it’s the Queen of England rapping 50 Cent,” said Lorie Briggs, Communications and Marketing Officer at the University of Florida, during a recent webinar for The Poynter Institute.

With apologies to the Queen, even the most memorable quote is unable to get to the heart of a story in the same way a well-crafted lead can.

Quotes are better served in the later paragraphs of a press release. According to Briggs, they shouldn’t even be seen until after the second paragraph.

Instead of acting as a supplemental lead or space filler, the quotes you use in press releases should be thoughtful, drawing readers further into the story. They need to reflect your organization’s expertise and spark a conversation.

The following five tips from Briggs will help you write more effective quotations.

1. Use quotes with purpose. Quotes should be useful to the media by providing an anecdote or unique perspective. Although the quotes you use should be aligned with your company’s objectives, they first and foremost need to say something that will interest readers.

2. Sound natural. Quotes shouldn’t sound forced, insincere or unintelligible. Just as with your content as a whole, be conversational and avoid jargon that can be lost in translation. Quotes should be clear and easy to read in order to entice and inform a broad range of readers.

3. Use strong language to evoke a response. The quotes used in a press release should act as a sound bite – a one-liner that is punchy and memorable. For instance, “John Doe is going to lead revolutionary change in our organization.” is more effective than “We are delighted to have John Doe join our organization.” Your quotes should make the reader sit up and take notice as they read through your content.

4. Attribute appropriately. Proper attribution is essential with quotes. Every quote should be attributed to a person, not your organization. Also, avoid getting creative with speech tags. A simple “said” or “says” is preferred.

5. Always get permission. In PR, there is some freedom to help your quoted executive or thought leader craft a more powerful statement. Whether you’re adding a bit of style to their message or simply using their quote as-is, it’s imperative to get approval before publishing the press release.

In deciding on which quotes to use, press release writers should aim for statements that capture the essence of the greater message, just as journalists extract the most important statements from an interview for their stories.

Strong adjective use, helpful context and a bit of personality can have a huge impact. They can mean the difference between a press release that underperforms and one that provides meaningful information to your readers, resulting in more engagement and media pickup.