How to create sound bites

By Posted in - Blog & Media Relations & Public Relations & Social Media & word of mouth marketing on January 11th, 2013 0 Comments

In this month’s issue of PRSA tactics, I came across a wonderful article addressing how to create sound bites. In today’s era of online posts and television snippets, it’s really important for corporate spokespeople to communicate exactly what they are trying to say in a short, concise statement that can be repurposed for sound bites. Here are a few takeaways from the article.

(Please note that all examples and tips are provided by Brad Phillips, the author of the original article.)

When creating a sound bite, try using:

  • Similes, metaphors and analogies: “It’s as if Republicans and Democrats are planning a trip, but they disagree over whether you should start the trip from Buenos Aires or Greenland.” – Howard Gleckman, Tax Policy Center
  • Triples: “We help ordinary people get rich without working on Wall Street, inheriting wealth or marrying a millionaire.”
  • Rhetorical questions: “More than 600,000 Americans lost their jobs last month.  How many more families need to lose their economic lifeline before Congress acts?”
  • Contrasts, conflicts or paradoxes: “Our food is fresh. Our customers are spoiled.” – FreshDirect, online grocer
  • Definitiveness or power: “We are in this to win.” – Gen. David Petraeus
  • Superlatives: “This is the biggest technological advance in 50 years in the oil business.” – Philip Crouse, oil analyst
  • Pop culture: “There’s a greater likliehood that I’ll be asked by Madonna to go on tour as her bass player than I’ll be picked to be on the ticket.” – Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), assessing the chances of becoming Mitt Romney’s VP running mate in 2012
  • Emotions: “As a New Yorker, I am absolutely horrified by what happened in my city last night.” – Commenter on Daily Kos website about alleged police brutality at a local protest
  • Surprise Twist: “I will not exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” – Ronald Reagan, diffusing accusations that he was too old for a second term
  • Tweaked cliches: “Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it does grow faster in credit unions without those greedy big bank fees.”
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