How a well-chosen analogy can elevate your media quote

In our media training sessions, one of the topics we touch on his how to increase the odds of getting a particular message into the reporter's finished story. If you participate in an interview that's 10, 15 or 20 minutes long, that's a lot of material for the reporter to choose from. How can you help narrow that choice down to the points you want them to include?

There are several techniques to make an important message stand out. You can:

- include metrics that provide context and meaning (percentages, dollar amounts, etc.)
- keep it brief (most quotes used in the media take less than 12 seconds to say)
- use an anecdote or analogy that helps you tell your story

Finding the right analogy can be tougher than it sounds. You have to choose something that won't offend your audience, first of all. And it needs to be something common enough that people can identify with. The odds of coming up with something obscure or inappropriate are high. But with a bit of thought before the interview, finding the right analogy can lead to a short, powerful quote that helps underscore your point of view.

I found just such an analogy in a recent New York Times story, "Hope for a brighter future on a darker broadway". A number of productions are closing due to the grim economic times. Marc Shaiman, the composer of Hairspray, summed up the situation as follows:

"For me, it feels like putting a pet to sleep, but not because it's sick -- because you can't afford dog food."

This quote does a nice job of capturing the passion these professionals have for their craft. And likewise, how painful it is to watch these shows close. And all in 21 words. Well said.