Our Press Writing Tips for This Day and Age
Are quotes losing their place in press writing? Even though a quarter of journalists rank quotes as one of the least essential elements in a news release, sound bites can still enhance your writing. However, this is only true if they are correctly used. How do your sound bites stack up? Let's explore some of the ways you can make your sound bites sound even better.
Why Are Sound Bites Important?
Sound bites are short phrases or quotes that are clear and memorable. They're used to help your point stand out from the clutter of everything else on the Internet. With so much vying for readers' attention, sound bites draw readers in and help quickly communicate information.
Including sound bites in your writing can improve your client’s SEO. These quippy phrases are easily shareable on social media for greater traffic to the client's site. Additionally, sound bites can make your writing stronger by allowing you to include more context and analysis around the sound bite or quote. You need a keen eye to pull out and highlight the source's most important words—making your authority on the subject matter more valid.
While sound bites may be falling by the wayside, there's still an opportunity to make yours stand out. Let's look at a few ways to optimize your sound bites in your writing.
Who Are You Quoting?
When making your written sound bites the best they can be, you need to consider who you are quoting. Who did you choose to be the “expert”? Is it a professional in the field you’re writing about? Is it an influencer from social media? Depending on the topic, any of these could be valid experts. It’s all about finding relevant, insightful perspectives.
When to Use a Fact in a Sound Bite
The purpose of using a sound bite in your writing is to add a personal feel or an emotion. For that reason, quoting a fact does not usually make for a good bite—unless that fact is so shocking it deserves to be directly quoted. A journalist wouldn't quote an official explaining who was involved in a car crash, what time of day the crash happened, or where it took place, but they would potentially quote the official's plea for drivers to check their blind spots before changing lanes. In this same way, you shouldn't include a quote in your writing that you could have said more concisely than your source.
The only time quoting a fact in a sound bite makes sense is when the fact is the story. For example, the statement, "This is the fourth tragedy in Nashville within the last two years," could be worthy of a direct quote because it is exciting and a central part of the story. Facts in sound bites should be used sparingly to not bore the reader. Only quote the things that enhance your point.
Don’t Repeat What the Bite Says
Nothing is drabber than reading a lead-in to a quote that basically says the same thing as the quote itself. Craft your copy to set up the quote in an interesting way that adds more to the story than if you just slapped the quote in the middle of your content. Remember to also vary your setup for sound bites if you have more than one in a single piece of content. Always think about how you can present the information to the reader in the most interesting way.
Don’t Use “Had This To Say”
Another way to make your sound bites sound better is by avoiding the phrases “had this to say” or so-and-so “said this." Once you present the quote and cite it, it's evident that the person you are quoting had that to say. Instead of these phrases, you can use much more exciting lead-ins that develop the story. Remember to think of your reader. What would help them buy into your authority and believe your point? A "he said/she said" structure doesn't enhance your content—a negative for both the client and the reader.
Don’t Bury the Sound Bite
Finally, don’t bury your sound bite. You went to a lot of work finding the perfect quote from an expert on your topic. If you let the bite get buried around blocks of text, its power diminishes. Let it stand out by making it a stand-alone paragraph or a killer last line. Alternatively, you could highlight the sound bite with a border or background color and a "tweet this" button. By making the quote a focal point, you’ll give your readers an easy way to engage with the content and even share it with their friends and family.
The Best Way to Write Sound Bites
The next time you're writing a news release (or even a blog post) for a client, don't disregard quotes. If you choose the right expert, set up the quote properly, and make the bite stand out, you can make your sound bites sound amazing. They'll reap the traffic your client desires. If you want further guidance on sound bites and improving your writing (whether you've been copywriting for years or you're still pretty green), check out Iris Writing International's Ultimate Writers' Course. You’ll learn how to launch your writing career and earn a Digital Writers’ Certificate. Enroll today!