My best quote of 2014

Posted January 23, 2015

The recent Massey University ‘Quote of 2014 Competition’ showed some interesting results. Obviously voters chose the ones they liked the most, with almost all having an element of humour in them.

But does this make them good quotes? That depends. The whole reason for spokespeople using interesting quotes should be to make a point in a way that journalists will use and audiences will remember. If this criteria is used to determine the best quotes of 2014, some of those chosen wouldn’t have made the top 10.

For example, Steven Joyce’s quote that he thought National’s use of the music for its Election advertising was “Pretty Legal” wouldn’t have made it. That would have made the Massey top 10 because of its humour, rather than its effectiveness in making a point.

On the other hand, under my criteria, Kelvin Davis may have won the competition. The point he was trying to make was that the Mana Internet Party was all hype and no substance. To make that point, he said: “It was all steam and no Hangi.” That’s a fantastic quote. It makes his point simply by using an analogy, it has an element of humour, and he knew that journalists would almost definitely use it in their stories.

That should always be the reason to create interesting quotes.

Others in the top 10 that would fail my test were those from David Cunliffe: “I’m sorry for being a man,” and Pam Corkery: “You puffed up little shit.” They may have made their points, but the quotes did nothing for their reputations.

One of the keys to successful media interviews is understanding what journalists like to use as quotes and giving it to them while making your own point at the same time. That’s why Kelvin Davis’s quote was my winner for 2014.

For more on my media training and crisis communication workshops, contact [email protected] or 029 200 8555.

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