Baloney Belongs in Sandwiches, Not News Releases
On September 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

By Henry Stimpson APR

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When I read many press releases, I’m convinced that the writer is in the wrong business.  He or she shoulda been a sausage maker. The baloney is piled high from start to finish.

Quotes are often worst offenders:  “We’re pleased to announce…”  “We’re proud…”  “We’re excited…”  “We’re delighted…” “We’re thrilled…”

In a recent 30-day period, Business Wire carried 1284 releases using “pleased,” 1,007 using “excited,” and 782 using “proud,” Wylie Communications found.

Clichéd, windy quotes are a waste of electronic real estate because they say nothing. Literally. They offer no information that isn’t in the release already.

And they turn readers off.  Who wants baloney when you can have filet mignon?

So, when anyone suggests adding a quote saying, “We’re pleased,” tell that person you’re not.

How can you get good quotes?

Start out by interviewing the people involved—the key executives or experts at your organization or client, and, if another organization is also an important part of the story, someone there too.  Real people usually say much more interesting things than anything a PR person can make up.  That’s not to say you can’t do some clean-up editing for clarity and impact.

If it’s not feasible to interview the key players, be creative in a good way.  Imagine what a living, breathing person might have to say about this interesting piece of news.  Tell readers something they can’t find in the rest of the release.

Keep quotes brief and pithy.  One or two sentences per quote—three tops—is plenty.

If coming up with a good quote turns out to be impossible, skip it. It’s far better to have no quotes in a release than stuffing it with baloney.


Henry Stimpson, APR, “PR Czar” at emersongroup, provides public relations, marketing communications and writing services to our client organizations in a wide range of industries. He has ghostwritten hundreds of articles and placed them in ­publications of all types, ­including The New York Times, and has written under his own name for The Boston Globe, Yankee and numerous trade ­publications.  To contact Henry, click here

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