Quotes in press releases are an essential ingredient and a prime space that is often under-used by PR practitioners. It’s a bit like forgetting to put baking powder in a cake mix, the cake will still taste ok, but it’s a bit flat.

Get your recipe wrong, and your release can feel a bit flat.

Get your recipe wrong and your release can feel a bit flat.

The great thing about quotes is that it’s the perfect opportunity to give a person’s perspective on the news, adding further credibility and value to what you’re announcing. It’s important to use it strategically to strengthen your announcement as well as raising the profile of the spokesperson saying it.

Press releases are largely based on facts or data, so the quote is a good chance to drive your messaging home with something concise, to the point and meaningful.

Getting a quote wrong, means your spokesperson will get cut from the story. Can’t be that hard, can it? Well, we’ve seen people fall into common traps with quotes…like saying:

  1. “We’re delighted, ecstatic, overjoyed” – the media aren’t particularly interested about your emotional reaction, they want to know your view, the quote should add value
  2. “This is innovative” – if you’re also going to make such a claim, be prepared to substantiated it
  3. “We’re streamlining our processes/product” – what exactly do you mean? Try to avoid jargon or overused phrases as the media don’t really value this
  4. “Our product was blessed by Zeus himself” – yes ok, this is extreme but make sure what you say is actually true. If you’re going to make a statement it needs to be believable and backed up by facts
  5. “This is the icing on the cake” – If you’re happy about an award win or something equally good then describe the impact of the business, instead of using clichés that don’t mean a great deal

So, you know what not to do, but it’s never that simple is it? How can you avoid these in future?

Our best advice when it comes to writing quotes is to imagine someone actually saying your quote out loud to a journalist. If you cringe or think the jargon will go over their head, then it’s clearly something nobody would ever say. Another good tactic is to speak to whoever you’re quoting in your release and ask them to comment as though they were being interviewed by a journalist. Note down their comments verbatim and refine it for the release.

Always remember to have a high resolution picture of the person quoted for media use – it’s amazing how many times forget to get these organised.

If you can avoid the pitfalls above and get some time with a spokesperson, you’ll have the perfect quote with which to bake the perfect press release.

Online and digital are becoming a huge part of today’s PR world, with 2013 being dubbed “the year of video” by many in the industry. It’s a great tool to communicate and engage with a large audience, opening up a conversation for people to feedback and give their opinions.

This is why, to celebrate Firefly’s 25th anniversary, we chose to use the medium of video to take a look at the past, present and most importantly future of PR. Firefly CEO Claire Walker spoke to some of the individuals who are driving the industry ahead: from EE, to IBM, to LinkedIn.  We have 18 interviews up on the website already and another each day until 8th October, all giving first-hand insight into the PR world.

A topic that appears as a running theme in our videos is the press release. Back in the day, this was the “go to item” for sharing your news, however now it regularly appears to be, simply, ‘a corporate exercise’ according to Firefly’s Austin Brailey. James Uffindell, Founder and CEO of Bright Network, weighed in on the press release debate too, commenting that as PR develops and communications becomes more 24/7, the press release is bound to become less influential.

It seems the downward spiral of the press release has the growth of multiple channels partly to blame. Since joining the PR world a couple of years ago, I have seen a number of new channels being created to add to the ever growing ways businesses can reach their key audiences. The likes of Vine, Instagram and Pinterest have all come about and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of them stopping. The mono channel of media relations is no longer and James Uffindell added that journalists will have less centralised power due to this.Firefly 25 wordle

Richard Houghton, non-executive director of Firefly said that it is crucial you plan how to handle these channels and decide which content works best on which channel. Multi channel communication is a real benefit to PRs, but only if they use them in the right way. Not every channel will work for your client/company. For example, there is little point in having a Facebook page just for the sake of it when your key audience may all be on LinkedIn.

Social media in particular has completely changed the way in which news is broadcast. When a big event takes place, people are now immediately sharing eye witness accounts and video footage which news organisations then aggregate and share. Charles Arthur, technology editor at The Guardian believes this could pose a big challenge to the PR industry. When a disaster or event of interest happens, people are immediately disclosing their opinions on social media and with 554,750,000 registered Twitter users, this news spreads fast. Charles believes that this could create a problem for PRs – where’s the “control” now?

As Gill Hawkins, director of marketing comms at Savvis says, “Any PR agency that doesn’t have digital and social media as part of their offering will be dead in the water.” The future of PR is headed towards online with video, social and digital all being seen as important parts of 2013 PR campaigns. The way PRs communicate with journalists is 90% virtual, with press conferences being close to extinction and Andy Rogers, director of comms at CEDR wonders whether the office telephone will even survive.

We still have than 7 interviews to come out and I’m looking forward to hearing more about the past, present and future of PR from some prominent characters in the industry. It’s an exciting industry to be apart of, especially at an agency like Firefly which is rapidly expanding its client offerings.

If you would like to watch the videos so far then please head over to our newly designed website and look out for the upcoming videos on our LinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Melissa Scuse, Account Coordinator, Firefly Communications. Contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

I recently celebrated the 40th birthday of a friend that shows no sign of slowing down (despite the advancing years) and I probably spend more time with them than my wife. This friend saves a lot of time, but sometimes bombards me with unnecessary information. A friend who I see every day at work and sometimes pops up offering vouchers, coupons and all sorts of tempting deals. This friend is often verbose, at times to-the-point, occasionally coarse and at other times tone-deaf. Can you guess who this friend is?

If you guessed email – or as it was then called, “electronic mail” – you’d be right on the money. Of course, commercial use of email hasn’t been around that long. This anniversary marks the date the very first email was sent by MIT graduate, Ray Tomlinson, over a network used by the US military. The first ever email message read, “QUERTYUIOP” and didn’t travel far, going from one computer to another one right next to it.

Tightly woven into the fabric of life and business

Since then, email has evolved into one of the most ubiquitous communications tools for personal and professional use. Pingdom reported that in 2010, 294 billion emails were being sent daily. The reason for its success is its sheer simplicity: the ability to send a communication in real-time to multiple people with full reporting capabilities.

Email has also evolved into a preferred marketing tool, appealing to the hearts and minds of receptive audiences. It has become an integral and essential part of the marketing mix, undergoing many changes over the years, including sophisticated designs, personalised content and user-friendly formats. By delivering email campaigns that convey the right messages, at the right time, to the right audience, email marketing can drive a reliable return on investment. It has also helped marketers move on from the ‘batch and blast’ approach.

This evolution has parallels with the public relations world, where gone are the days when PR consultants would “email blast” irrelevant press releases indiscriminately to hundreds of journalists. With the advent of highly customisable platforms like email marketing, not only can you reach the masses; but you can segment, inform, entertain and more effectively engage them.

Email maturity helps with ROI

As marketing budgets for digital channels such as social media, SEO and paid search fall, citing lack of return on investment, email marketing has actually seen growth in its investment levels. Its success, measurability and fast turnaround make it the most effective and preferred channel across campaign phases – from customer acquisition, retention, loyalty, up-sell and cross-sell, through to news, education and brand awareness.

Asked whether email would stand the test of time against social networking and other forms of digital communication, Ray Tomlinson (founder of email) commented: “I suspect possibly we’ll see a morphing of email and other, more instant methods. But there will always be a need for people to be able communicate asynchronously – that is, send messages that won’t be read or replied to immediately, and that’s what email allows you to do.” In today’s information-overloaded society this is probably more critical now than ever before.

Email marketing has come of age and as we continue to innovate, there are no limits to the possibilities. It’ll be interesting to see what the next 40 years hold. Love it or hate it, email is not going anywhere and is one of the most effective forms of communications.


Illustration: Dondy Razon

Is it time to shape your reputation?

We operate in London, Paris and Munich, and have a network of like-minded partners across the globe.

Get in touch

Sign up to Spark, our newsletter

Receive thought pieces from our leadership team, views on the news, tool of the month and light relief for comms folk

You can unsubscribe at any time, please read our privacy policy for more information