SENDING specialist quotes to journalists when reacting to developing news doesn’t guarantee you media coverage.
You may have been keen enough to spot a coverage opportunity and quick enough to react.
If the quotes don’t reverberate – if what you say or send doesn’t excite a journalist – they’re unlikely to make the final edit.
Creating a clear message in a catchy sound bite is critical to seizing coverage opps. that come your way.
Editors and producers want credible, strong opinion that generates audience engagement.
Slick media sound bites also compel audiences to take note of brands.
Developing a skill in penning slick ‘spokesperson quotes’, that the media will use, is a fundamental element of public relations and critical to generating frequent brand exposure.
Once versed in the skill, you’ll be contacted by journalists hoping for another crisp, credible, opinionated sound bite (from their go to specialist).
The most memorable quotations and sound bites relay a clear message in a slick and succinct way.
Very occasionally, good quotations and sound bites write themselves.
Mostly, they should be crafted and honed through a writing process.
The process I often use to provide media-friendly comment and opinion (in quotes), or to prepare sound bites for broadcast, follows a similar flow to the following five steps.
What you have below is a quick and methodical way of creating a credible and valuable voice for publication or interview, so you can lever your brand into the public eye.
Start by typing out every point you can possibly make on the subject matter in hand, whether you’re commenting on changes to government policy, industry developments or your own company’s news.
Whatever the topic of the day, compile a list of every salient point of view that you can muster on it. Write down what you want people to know about the matter.
Bring colleagues to brainstorm if necessary, to get every valuable opinion and good point of view on the table. You’re aiming to generate anywhere between 20 and 100 potential message points for further consideration.
Once your list is complete, read through your message points. You will find common themes among the points you want to make.
Separate your message points into groups. Compile similar and connected quotations together. One message may replicate or duplicate another. Eliminate any exact repetition. Don’t delete anything else, yet.
Put them in groups, with the most pertinent, compelling and valuable points first. Give each group a working title and place your groups in order of impact and relevance to the subject matter.
Scrutinise each group. Read through each message point in each group. Identify messages which seem to say the same thing, in a different way. Amalgamate them into a succinct statement which retains a punchy point of view.
Use impactful, emotive, conversational language to paint a picture. Other than necessary technical terms, don’t use any word that you wouldn’t use in day-to-day conversation.
Don’t exceed 20 words per sentence. Move through your groups until each has three to six lines of concise, succinct, resonant sound bite to make that point.
Read the full list of message points in their groups. Study every group and point you are making – no less than three times. Then walk away for 20 minutes. Do something else. Return with fresh eyes.
Select your strongest three messages. Those that address the subject matter and relay your thoughts best. Ascertain which one is the most important to make. It will be your lead.
Tweak them if necessary. Can they sound closer to something you’d say? Make your tone casual, direct and explanatory. Insert visual words where possible. Tighten any woolliness at the heart of your sentences. (Bank the remaining groups).
Assess each message for its newsworthiness, emotional impact and value to brand. Rank them in order under each heading. A message point with all three is most likely your lead quote.
Lead with your most newsworthy line. Enter the public debate on story. Select the order of your supporting messages. Consider how one point could lead to another, as if spoken.
Ensure appropriate, relevant reference to business, products and case studies is made where possible. Identify any final fat to trim – deleting superfluous words, sentences and paragraphs.
12 magic tricks for creating quotes and sound bites the media will use
Use these as a checklist for polishing your final draft:
What remains are your quotes for publication. Or your sound bite to memorise for interview. Whatever, it is your official brand stance on a matter of interest.
The above process has given me numerous slick and punchy quotes that the media used.
What it produces should also provide ample content for journalists to work with, carve up and weave into their work as they see fit.