Concise quotes sound better

Why are PR quotes so much longer than media quotes?

Mark Twain once defined a sound bite as “a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense.”

So this quote, from The New York Times’ “Riches to Rags for New York Teenager Who Admits His Story Is a Hoax,” makes a lot of sense. The reporter asks the subject if he had in fact made any money at all.

“No,” he replied.… Read the full article

Thumbs up

Get The Peer Principle of Persuasion into your next campaign

“What others say about you and your product, service, or business is at least 1,000 times more convincing than what you say, even if you are 2,000 times more eloquent.”
— Dan Kennedy, author of No B.S. Sales Success

Too often, communicators use first-party testimonials. That is, they quote their own VP of product development on how great the new product is.… Read the full article

Write quotes that sound human

Convey personality, passion and a point of view

Too many quotes don’t even sound human. Instead, they clatter in your ear like a computer spit them out.

Add personality to your quotes through passion, humanity and colloquialisms.

Make it personal.

When two-thirds of Californians failed every question on a fast food nutrition quiz, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy distributed a release including this sound bite. The subject matter expert makes the story personal by talking about his own experience with the quiz:

“I have a doctorate in public health, and I failed this quiz,” says Dr.… Read the full article

List, rhyme and twist

Craft a sassy sound bite

When the Federal Trade Commission needed to explain why the agency has decided not to develop a do-not-spam registry — officials feared that spammers would target people on the list — a spokesperson said:

“You’ll be spammed if we do — and spammed if we don’t.”

You’ve got to love that sound bite! How can you craft such a memorable, quotable line for your copy? One approach is to list, rhyme and twist.… Read the full article

Say it ain’t so

Reporters don’t like news release quotes

“Most quotes in news releases sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown cartoons: ‘Wah wah wah wah.’”
— A frustrated PR pro

What’s the least important element in a release — less important even than the dateline or the boilerplate?

Quotes, say one in four reporters surveyed in a 2014 study by Greentarget. According to Greentarget’s research:

  • 13% of journalists never use quotes from releases.
Read the full article

Write it like Winston

Make Churchill your muse

Edward R. Murrow said of Winston Churchill: “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”

He rallied the British, defied the Nazis and inspired the United States to fight. Some say he saved the Western world with his words.

“Never, never, never give up.”

He was captured by the Boers and escaped. He wrote about his military adventures in newspaper articles and books. By 1899, he was one of the highest paid and best known British war correspondents.… Read the full article

Neologisms: Coin a word

Create new terms by merging old ones

I was working on a story today when a writerruption occurred: My brother sent me photos of The Cutest Kid In the World — aka my niece. I got distracted and missed my deadline.

Not really. But don’t you love the word writerruption?

I made it myself, with a cool word tool Wordoid. More about how to do that in a minute.

But first, let’s look into the fascinating world of neologisms, or the practice of creating new words.… Read the full article

Alphabet scoop

Create acronyms that help readers retain info

First there was FUBAR: F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition. Now, thanks to the Urban Dictionary, we also have PHOBAR: PHOtoshopped Beyond All Recognition. (Like this.)

I know; I know: Acronyms can make your copy harder to read. After all, it’s hard for readers to follow your train of thought when they’re drowning in alphabet soup.

But acronyms can also make your copy easier to read and remember, writes Jack Napoli, if you use them to group your key ideas “into nuggets of distinction.”

‘Nuggets of distinction’

MARC, for instance, is easier to remember than Mid-America Regional Council.… Read the full article

Verbify a name

‘My goal in life is to become an adjective’

I was thrilled last month when one of my clients asked me to “Wylie-ize” part of her website. (Thank you, Libby Catalinich!)

I’ve always wanted to be a verb!

‘Joycean, Shakespearean, Faulknerian’

That reminded me of this exchange between characters in Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot:

“My goal in life is to become an adjective,” Leonard said. “People would go around saying, ‘That was so Bankheadian.’ Or, ‘A little too Bankheadian for my taste.’”

“Bankheadian has a ring,” Madeleine said.

Read the full article

Neologisms: Find half-and-half words

Gain inspiration for portmanteau from WordSpy

Tracy Ousdahl and Paul Pinney have traveled the globe. But sometimes, instead of venturing out to a cool destination, they use their time off to visit their families.

Don’t call that a vacation, though. To Tracy and Paul, that’s a famcation.

Half-and-half words like famcation — linguists call these portmanteaus — not only grab readers’ attention. They also move further and faster on social media.… Read the full article

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