5 great press release quotes and how to write them
The quote is the only part of your press release that journalists can't change. Here's how you can make it shine.
Quotes in press releases are a dime a dozen. That in itself isn't a good reason to use them, but chances are, you'll want to if you're making a big company announcement.
And to be fair, there's no real downside to including a quote so long as you're thoughtful about it. It's just that most press releases get it horribly, horribly wrong.
If you're one of the thousands of PR people who aren't super comfortable with the practise, you've landed in the right place, because we're about to change that.
The rest of this post outlines the key things it helps to keep in mind when drafting a quote to use in your press release, accompanied by some real-life examples from our clients for illustration.
But before we get to the examples, a bit of guidance.
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While in all likelihood a generic quote won't hurt your press release, there isn't much point in spending your time writing one if it doesn't add anything to the story (no matter what your CEO thinks).
Not every press release needs a quote.
This is often the case in sectors like retail, where a new line or product is normally enough to capture some interest if your company has some traction, though as we'll see from the Reebok example later, there are exceptions to the rule.
If you're pitching an influencer, make it extra short and Instagrammable – something that would catch a scroller's attention as they idly thumb through their feed.
If you're addressing a journalist audience, understand that a well-worded quote could be used as part of their headline, a cross-head, as part of the body copy, an image caption, a pull-quote.
So, give them options.
There's a fine line between awareness and what is essentially keyword stuffing. You'll likely want the name of your brand, product or project to be clearly mentioned in your press release quote, but be conscious of how it makes the quote sound.
There's only so many times you can cram "Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net" into a sentence before it begins to sound a tad orchestrated.
Remember, the quote is the one part of your press release that definitely needs to sound like it comes from a human. Don't over-egg it.
If your quote goes on for a paragraph covering the nitty-gritty context around your story, it's unlikely that any journalist would use it. Why would they?
Quotes are there to add a human element to your news and substantiate your story. They should not serve to relay the company boilerplate (or any marketing spiel, for that matter) or a long string of figures. It just isn't interesting.
Use your quote to add flavor, and let the rest of the press release provide the facts.
Do you know who are always delighted? CEOs. Stakeholders. Spokespeople (and their marketing managers). They're always either delighted, pleased, thrilled or excited about some new thing or other. Which is remarkable given how famously stressed out they're all supposed to be. Someone should do some research into this phenomenon.
Well, noticing this epidemic of executive mania that appeared to be plaguing the world of communications in 2019, my buddy Christopher S. Penn over at TrustInsights did just that. He sampled 30,996 unique press releases from the preceding year and analyzed just how often seven particular phrases got used.
You know what he found?
- 3,182 press releases mentioned that they were pleased about something
- 2,996 were pant-wettingly excited
- 2,312 were standing proud
- A meagre 401 were happy
– which sounds about right given the number of clickthroughs these press releases look to have received – five clicks on average (with a median of zero).
"It’s no surprise that an inoffensive phrase like 'Company X is pleased to announce' makes it into so many press releases; I’d be willing to bet that it’s baked right into some of the document templates itself in the key announcement section," writes Chris. "The downside of this lack of language diversity is obvious: releases that are boring, unengaging, and thus ignored."
The takeaway? Don't rely on these conventions to fall back on. Instead, write out what you mean to say and say it the way you would if you were speaking with another person. Edit from there.
The same goes for stilted terms like "synergy", "innovative solution" and "utilize". Literally no human uses those.
For the full results as well as some wise analysis about engagement on these press releases, head over to the full write-up on TrustInsights.
- Keep things short – if you're looking at your quote and thinking, "should I cut that out?" the answer is yes, you most likely should
- Supply a short, punchy quote as well as a longer, more discursive one; or write a long quote and give your journalist friend shrift to chop up the individual sentences
- Include emotion and human tone in your quote; it shouldn't read like something that's had an entire comms team poring over it for a week (that's what the rest of the press release is for)
- Waffle on for sentences without actually saying very much
- Use the same language that you see in 99% of half-assed quotes floating around the internet (if I have to read the words "I'm delighted" one more time)
Without further ado, the show:
Any story you tell should be clear about why now is the right time for people to sit up and pay attention, and using a quote to add this context gives you the chance to evoke empathy.
If possible, the person giving the quote should bring their personal experience into what they're saying to show why it's important to them that this is happening now.
You see this a lot with startup stories. People tend to care a lot more about the founder story than the product itself, so entrepreneurs need to show how some pain they experienced in their own lives led them to work day and night to build a remedy to that problem, and thereby prevent other people from having to go through the same suffering they went through.
In addition, by contextualizing your quote in the here and now, you give content creators an angle from which to tell your story.
If you're lucky, your quote might be featured in secondary stories that explore the overall trend highlighted by your quote, which of course leads to more exposure for your brand.
One of the changes we have noticed in the real estate world in recent years is that many people are consciously moving to smaller homes, so that they can focus more on social contacts. Moreover, the number of single person households is increasing year after year. And we respond smartly to that with Fonder.
Sometimes it's difficult to get away from being a bit technical in your quotations, particularly if you're discussing a scientific topic or – and, as the daughter of one, I say this with affection – speaking with an academic.
Still, there's a way you can open up the subject to make it more, shall we say, user-friendly, and that's by highlighting a short, punchy soundbite within the longer quote that a journalist can lead with.
A pithy or startling one-liner is ideal, and I would certainly keep it to a couple of sentences max.
Here are a few examples to show you what I mean.
The electric buses offer two major advantages. First of all, the new e-buses are completely emission-free. They do neither emit pollutants such as CO2 (generating greenhouse gases), NOx (acid rain, risk to health), nor fine particles (harmful to heart and respiratory system). As De Lijn only purchases green electricity, there is also no emission when producing the energy. Secondly, the buses are particularly silent due to the absence of a diesel motor. The only thing to be heard is a buzz. The bus is three times quieter than a normal diesel bus when leaving the stop.
This paired with the soundbite approach worked well for Reebok when they announced their partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid, whose quotes were pulled apart and peppered throughout subsequent coverage – just take a look beneath the headline of this Elle article.
Notice how personal the quote sounds. It's a little rambling, a bit unpolished with its "like"s and "kind of"s. It takes a lot of prep to sound that professionally casual, and the team at Reebok got it spot on.
Actually, it's worth taking a look at the full Reebok press release announcement because the whole thing is done very well. See how they went heavy on the visuals and included a video quote from Gigi as well as several hashtags? They effectively cashed in on her modelling experience and social media appeal, while telling a story of how sport helped her become the confident, successful person she is today – which just happens to involve some £70 shoes.
Because Reebok loves me for the reason that I found confidence in myself growing up, which was through being an athlete, I knew I wanted that story very much to be about how being an athlete made me the person that I am, and gave me a work ethic and kind of a drive to get here. And I think that these shoes are almost kind of like the story of my life, the athlete turned fashion.
Being able to attribute quotes in a press release to a household name is a big win. For one, it gives you an extra angle for your story based solely on that person's kudos. For two, it can make people who are not normally part of your audience sit up and pay attention.
It can also, like in the Ashton Kutcher example below, bring credibility to what would otherwise be a self-serving compliment coming from the brand itself. You're unlikely to pay much attention if a company labels itself innovative and a leader, but when Jesse from Dude, Where's My Car? says it? Whole other deal.
This partnership with Lenovo brings together my love of technology and design that makes your life better. I can’t wait to dig in and help Lenovo develop future mobile computing products, starting with the Yoga Tablet. Lenovo is all about innovation and strong leadership. Entrepreneurship is part of their DNA, and I couldn’t ask for a better fit.
If your news release announces something that might unnerve people – say for instance, a company acquisition that could affect a business's employees or client base – use your quote to reassure those reading that change isn't necessarily a thing to fear.
Combined with a reputable source, it can make a big difference to how your news is received, particularly if you invite comments and questions from those reading.
We are very pleased with this major strategic and complementary acquisition. This is a historic step in the history of both Telenet and BASE Company. Now that we are assured of long-term mobile access, we will be able to provide an improved experience for both our customers and those of BASE Company. We look forward to working on this together with our colleagues from BASE Company.
Published February 2022