By Melissa A Vitale
Have you ever had an interview with a journalist, either written like via email or verbal, over the phone or in-person, but when the piece was published, your quotes and insight were excluded? Welcome to media. This is something that happens more often that any publicists like. It’s one of the tradeoffs we face because we’re relying on relationships, not advertising dollars for feature coverage.
Providing commentary or quotes is often “in consideration,” meaning it has the potential to be excluded based on the direction of a story. Often times, commentary is excluded from publication for reasons even the most seasoned publicists cannot control.
These reasons may include but are not limited to:
However, there are times when answers or commentary is excluded because it simply isn’t relevant to the conversation.
Because mainstream outlets won’t cover sex-positive or legal cannabis stories regularly, for Vice-category brands, making the most of every media opportunity is paramount. If your quote was excluded from a cannabis article on Allure, another opportunity may not come around for 6+ months. If you continue to give commentary that isn’t relevant, the opportunities may stop all together.
By keeping a couple things in mind while crafting your quotes, you can reduce the number of times your commentary gets cut from stories you have the opportunity to speak to.
Answer the question in your answer
At any given moment, journalists are often working on multiple stories with three-to-four sources per story. If on a time crunch, journalists don’t have time to fill out a quote. Journalists need to quote complete thoughts, so when you don’t repeat the answer in your question, you’re only giving them half a quote.
For instance, the answer to “Why do people enjoy cannabis consumption during intimate play?” should be start with “People enjoy cannabis consumption during intimate play because….”.
By saving the journalist time filling out a complete thought, you avoid your answers being cut because of a time crunch.
Short & Sweet
Journalists can source 2-5 sources per article. I know one journalists who will source up to 20 sources per article. This is how journalists provide complete and unbiased reporting as is their job. But for this reason, it makes concise answers all the more important when responding to a media opportunity. If a journalist gets 8 sources commenting on a topic but only needs a 15 word quote, he’s going to avoid the big paragraphs.
Diversify your answers
Unless you’re speaking as an expert in a niche area, answers to questions usually don’t need to be more than three sentences. Try to dedicate only one sentence to a thought. Keep your thoughts unique. Journalists are often puzzle-piecing commentary from a variety of sources. Having unique points betters your chances that your insight is complimentary to the other quotes provided.
Take your ego out of it
Like many things in PR, providing commentary for a story is more about helping a journalist out than it is centering your product. If your entire quote is all about your brand but the story is on a trend in the industry, your quote is not going to be relevant. Journalists often want to promote the brands that help them out and will include a description of your company and usually a link in your title. It’s far better to leave your ego out of your quote and provide non-branded expertise. Sure, you won’t get quoted talking about how wonderful your brand is, but you will establish yourself as a vital industry source, which can often carry more weight than a favorable mention.
Have a title (and website) ready
Once have an opportunity to contribute to a story, have a title ready for them that you send over with your responses. Your title should be the name you want known with your brand, your pronouns, a link to your website and a brief description of what your brand is. I also include a link to a drive with brand images in the title. This way, everything the journalist needs to drive traffic back to you is already given with your quotes. If you don't have a website yet, you're going to want one once you start getting press mentions. Site editors are less-likely to link to social media handles because it's so easy to change the name - which results in a dead link for them. Even if it's just a landing page with links to your social media accounts, it will help streamline all your traffic from press mentions.
Return answers BEFORE the deadline
Most times, journalists are sourcing from multiple experts. They're also working on other deadlines. If three of four experts have returned commentary for one piece, a writer may start their draft without waiting for the last source to return insight. Get your quotes in well before their deadline to make sure your insight is considered!
This list is not definitive and due to the nature of organic media coverage, there is never a guarantee your quotes won’t get cut (unless the story is about you)
If you’re still confused on how to form a great quote that doesn’t get cut, you can always read trend stories by your favorite industry reporters to familiarize yourself with the style of quotes editors and writers look for.
For vice brands looking to explore cost effective public relations packages, learn more about MAVPR via: melissaavitale.com/services.html
Melissa A Vitale Public Relations
A public relations agency specializing in brands and startups in artificial intelligence, sexual wellness and legal cannabis.