How to help your spokesperson’s quotes suck less
“We’re thrilled to announce……”
“I’m excited to share….”
“We’re pleased to convey…..”
If you’re still awake long enough to read the rest of this post, no doubt you’ve grown slightly drowsy just reading the lines above. But let me help wake you back up. If your brand uses any variations of the above quotations in a news release or any other communication medium — you’re doing it wrong.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, PR practitioners got lazy. Once upon a time, a PR person long ago (maybe Edward Bernays, himself?) communicated the words of a spokesperson, and it read something like this, “I’m thrilled to announce we’re opening up a new store. We’re excited about the growth potential it presents. And we’re pleased to play a role in this community.” And a newspaper somewhere printed those words….and a host of cliches were born.
But a spokesperson’s quote is supposed to, in fact, be a statement from the actual person being quoted. And yes, I’ll pull the wool off of everyone’s eyes and admit PR practitioners do ghost write spokespeople’s quotes for them. But the words should be based on sentiment and feedback from the quoted person. It should actually sound like something the person would say….in real life….to another person.
In our PR agency, we’ve banned the words “excited,” “thrilled,” or “pleased,” from any statements written on behalf of our clients. If we can’t come up with a better way to say it, then well, we’re doing it wrong. Our goal is to communicate the true essence of our client’s voices in the news releases and other communications materials we share with our media contacts.
Ann Wylie, veteran PR pro and contributor to PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics offers some great tips on how to improve the sound of an executive’s quotes. In addition to her advice, we’d like to add a few more ways you can make your brand spokesperson’s quotes suck less:
- Share something new: don’t just regurgitate what’s already been said in the announcement. Have the brand spokesperson actually say something new in his/her quote, something that hasn’t already been covered.
- Know your spokesperson: if your quote doesn’t sound like something your client would actually utter from his/her lips, re-write it. Everyone has their own communication style, and that’s evident in their sound bites. Some executives are more buttoned-up and conservative, others are laid back and relaxed in their speech. The quote should be consistent with the spokesperson’s style of speaking. (If you haven’t talked to your brand spokesperson in a while, give them a call!).
- Read the quote out loud: Have your client read the quote out loud (which is something you should try, too) to make sure it flows well and communicates what you’re trying to say. Often times a message sounds different when spoken out loud as opposed to read on a page.
The media receiving your information will thank you for taking the time to make your brand spokesperson’s statement sound more interesting, and it might even increase your chances they share the quote with their readers and viewers. If nothing else, it will hopefully keep them awake long enough to finish reading the news you took the time to share with them.
What other words would you ban from the spokesperson quote lexicon, if you could?