10 Tips for Quotes Reporters Can’t Resist

When you sit down with a reporter, it’s important to know your story, to know your facts and figures, and to know what that reporter finds interesting. It’s basic prep work for anyone handling PR.


But for a strong interview it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Will you repeat a bunch of marketing-speak that makes you sound like everyone else, or will you deliver a sharp one-liner that makes you stand out as an insightful thought leader?

That’s why you should spend some time before the interview thinking up quotable quotes – the kind of thing reporters have no choice but to use, no matter how many interviewees they’ve had for a story.

A strong quote can turn a ho-hum story into a viral phenomenon that builds your brand.

So how do you do it? Here are some ideas.

1. Scare the Reader

Fear and greed are two great emotional drives, so lean into fear to make a point.

“If we don’t stop burning fossil fuels, our great-grandchildren will all be dead by 50. There is no way around it.”


2. Show Emotion

Words used to describe emotions jump off the page, making them irresistible to reporters. Talk about how something terrified you. How it thrilled you. How it made you cry. How it made you swell with pride.

“I remember when we hit our 1,000th customer. We did a group Zoom call where we raised a toast, and I could barely speak I was so proud. When I logged off I had a good happy cry.”


3. Use Superlatives

No one wants to read a book just because you say you read it. But they will want to read it if you say it was the best book you’ve ever read. Same goes for a new technology or innovation. Don’t just describe it. Talk about how it’s amazing, wondrous, and transformative – like nothing that came before it.

“Our new battery technology is the biggest and most transformational innovation the industry has seen in 50 years.”


4. Make a Promise Forcefully

Want your quote to be used? Make a promise. One with conviction.

“I make this promise to all of our users: We will never let any government access our user data. We’ll shut down the business first.”


5. Quote a Quote

Is there a quote that you now live by – and that’s relevant in the interview you’re about to have? Something your mom used to tell you about standing up for yourself? Something an old coach told you about digging deep down when you’re at your weakest? Share that quote and cite the person you heard it from. Passing on someone else’s wisdom will make it stand out more than if it was your own observation.

“It’s like my dad used to tell me...’”Michael Scott, a character from The Office, sits by a whiteboard with a misattributed aspirational message.

Wisdom via Wayne Gretzky via Michael Scott

6. Be Conversational

It’s not uncommon for interviews to be done via email. While it’s great that this gives you complete control over what you want to say, it can also lead to pretty dry answers – the way we write is different from how we speak.

So as you’re answering the questions, be sure what you write sounds like something you would actually say out loud. Use common words, simple phrasing, and contractions.

“I felt like I’d arrived when I ran into a much larger competitor at a bar. We had just beat them for a new client, and I swear he tipped his head in a sort of congrats. I was like, wow, this is a new experience for me. And I dug it.”


7. Be Brief and Straightforward

Many of the best and most memorable quotes are short with simple phrasing and common words. Do that.

“We have to do right by our people. If we don’t, we lose.”


8. Reference Pop Culture

What’s popular right now? Ted Lasso? Squid Game? Try to work it into your quote.

“When I took a close look at my startup’s culture, I realized it was too much Squid Game and not enough Ted Lasso. That’s when we decided we had to go back to square one and change everything.”


9. Connect with Current Events

Right as COVID-19 changed everything, we were waiting for editor feedback on an article we submitted to an industry trade publication. When they replied, they said they loved the piece, but “could it be more COVID-y?” That editor’s instinct applies to quotes as well.

“For a large enterprise, ransomware attacks are like the wildfires out west. Unpredictable, hard to control, and devastating.”


10. Predict the Future

If you’re being interviewed, that kind of makes you an expert. Whether you’re talking about your own company (you better be an expert) or a broader industry trend, the interviewer is looking to you for insights not just about what’s happening today, but what it means for tomorrow. That’s when you put on your Nostradamus hat and look into the future.

“By 2030, every type of business software will have AI at its core.”


Get Quotable & Get Quoted

Do you have an interview coming up? Need help preparing? Check out these resources:

Want a more personal touch? Get in touch. We’d be happy to advise.