Of all of the elements in the public relations magician’s black bag of tricks, none is more mysterious than the crafting of the sound bite, or quote.
The world is divided into two groups: those who instinctively know how to turn any abstract message point into a sound bite and those who don’t. For those who know how, it is as easy as breathing or laughing. These people often find themselves in marketing or communications. They have liberal arts degrees and they are creative. For those who don’t know how to make something quotable, it’s as mysterious as trying to speak in tongues. These people have engineering and business degrees. They are logical, rational, linear thinkers, who view themselves as systematic.
Fortunately, I have created a system that will allow these logical, rational, linear thinkers to turn any message point into a sound bite that is irresistible to even the most hard-bitten journalist. The system is called A BEACH PRO, which is an acronym that stands for analogy, bold action words, emotions, examples, attacks, absolutes, clichés, humor, pop culture references, rhetorical questions and opposition quotes.
Nearly every quote you read in newspapers and trade publications contains one or more of these 11 A BEACH PRO elements. Likewise, nearly every
sound bite you see or hear on TV or radio makes use of one or more of them as well. Once you understand that reporters require these structural elements in their stories, it becomes incredibly easy to craft the exact quotes you want.
Reporters need quotes. They are one of the essential building blocks of any good story. Quotes are needed to make the story more interesting, understandable and memorable – thus, reporters also need you!
You should never go into an interview without knowing in advance precisely the exact quotes you want to see in tomorrow’s newspaper or tonight’s newscast. Note: this is not the same as knowing your general message points; sound bites are much more specific than that.
If you ever go into an interview without knowing what quotes you want to see, you have already failed miserably. And if you are a public relations consultant to an executive who is about to be interviewed, and you haven’t supplied the client with specific sound bites, you are guilty of malpractice.
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