11 keys to getting a journalist to quote you

Want to stand out from all the others who jump into the fray as ‘subject experts’? Follow these guidelines.


Dan Janal wants everyone to see or hear your brilliant insights.

Janal (@prleads) is the founder and president of PR Leads and the author of “Reporters Are Looking for YOU!” PR Leads matches journalists looking for informed sources with people who could be sources for their stories.

Here are his tips on how to improve your chances of being quoted:

Respond to the question yourself: A common mistake is when a PR representative says there’s someone who would be great to answer the question and offers to set up an interview. Instead, answer the question yourself. No need to say, “I’m happy to answer further questions or set up an interview.” That’s implied if you’re answering the question.

Let the journalist copy and paste your quote: You want to make the job as easy as possible for the journalist. Offer a bite-size quote that the journalist can copy and paste into the article. The reporter may be under deadline pressure or may just be lazy. Make it easy to quote you.

Don’t spend too much time on your response: Some magazines, such as Salon and The Atlantic, have in-depth article formats. “Most articles are a mile wide and an inch deep,” Janal says. Though some people need a little longer to write a response to a query, most responses shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to compose. Give the journalist short pithy quotes. Don’t offer seven sentences, because they’ll never quote that much. Plus, it will be more difficult to dig through it all for the ideal quote. Offer two or three tips that are two or three sentences long, so it’s easy for the journalist to find and copy that nugget.

You can get quoted without ever speaking to a reporter: This new email-based matchmaking service enables reporters to copy and paste quotes from emails. That means so many articles never include even a single phone interview.

Enjoy responding to queries: Janal said the average user on his service gets quoted two or three times for every 10 responses to queries. This may not sound good, but it’s a far better average than all the alternative ways of trying to get quoted. Some elite query responders have a 50 to 90 percent success rate, and Janal said what sets them apart is that they really enjoy responding to queries. It’s fun for them. If you like media, marketing, your job, and you enjoy sharing ideas, that will come through. If you have the attitude, “Damn, this is one more thing I have to do,” you won’t be nearly as successful as those who are having a good time sharing their knowledge.

Reply quickly: One reason users don’t get quoted is they don’t respond fast enough. Queries get emailed out the moment the journalist enters them into the system. Journalists have deadlines; sometimes they’re within hours, and sometimes weeks. Often they won’t specify a deadline, so assume it’s immediate. You’ll improve your chances of getting quoted by offering a swift reply.

Deliver a unique response: If you’re the 20th person to say the same thing, the journalist will believe it’s information that everyone knows and never quote anyone.

Put the service name in the headline: If you make a response to a ProfNet query, put “ProfNet” in the headline so it stands out from all the other junk the reporter gets.

Short answers are easier to read on mobile device: Keep in mind that many reporters will be reading your response on a smartphone or tablet. Omit extraneous verbiage and pleasantries.

Don’t just send a link back to a relevant article: Often I’ll get a response which is just a link to an article online. Though that’s helpful, it does add a level of effort. Don’t make more work for the reporter. You can provide a link to a relevant article, but pull out the two or three quotes you think would be most valuable to the journalist. That way you’re improving your chances that the journalist will quote the right part of your article.

Video interview responses require a “point-story-repeat point” response: If you want to be quoted in a video interview remember to prepare. If you can get the questions beforehand, write down your answers and the one thing you want to make sure to get into the video. Once you’re prepared and you’re on camera, follow this process on responding: State your position first, tell a quick story that illustrates your position, and then restate your position. Chances are your interview will be chopped up and only a single quote will be pulled out. Make sure you don’t stray off topic.

You can listen to the podcast here:

David Spark (@dspark ) owns the brand journalism firm Spark Media Solutions. The original article was published on Spark Minute. For future episodes, subscribe on iTunes to “Hacking Media Production.”

Topics: PR

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