We’ve all seen them. Heck, some of us have written them. Those news release quotes that are cumbersome, boring and … contrived. They generally show up when we're writing:

  • For publicly traded and highly regulated industries, our friends in Legal want to make sure we don’t say anything that will get us in trouble
  • About highly technical subjects, we tend to resort to jargon or complicated explanations

But even when those factors aren’t at play, it’s easy to fall into “I’m writing now” – that place where we stop sounding like human beings “talking” and start sounding like a high school term paper or college dissertation. We try to pack a lot in and sound super smart doing it. And it almost never works.

Actionable tips for writing better news release quotes

We call criteria like this Gold Standards. Effective news release quotes:

  1. Add needed context or analysis to the prose
  2. Explain jargon or technical terms
  3. Sound like an actual person

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

How to get better quotes

  1. Add needed context or analysis to the prose by asking why and how. Too many news release quotes focus on what. Ask follow-up questions if you’re interviewing someone. How do you know? Why do you think this? What does this mean for our audience? Why should we care? If you’re writing the quote for someone else, ask yourself the follow-up. Sounds silly, but it works. This will ensure that you have quotes that add value through helpful context or insightful analysis.
  2. Explain jargon or technical terms. Quotes are a great way to explain required jargon or complex concepts more simply, but it can be hard to get subject-matter experts to speak in plain English – mostly because they usually converse with people like them. As the professional communicator charged with spreading their good work to the world, assert yourself and help them find simpler ways to explain things to a less-knowledgeable audience.
  3. Sound like an actual person. We call them "quotes" because the implication is that someone said the words rather than wrote them. This is important because much of what drives believability is voice (how you say it) and tone (how it’s heard). Before we consider facts, we consider the credibility of the person delivering them. So make new release quotes conversational, which doesn’t necessarily mean casual, by the way. A conversation is defined by Webster’s as the “oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas” [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conversational]. Any writing that’s conversational simply sounds like it’s being spoken. Think about that.

Following this advice will help you banish those meaningless, forced quotes from your news releases and gain credibility in the process.