Seven Great Media Sound Bites
If you want to virtually guarantee that reporters will use the quote you want them to, you need to master the art of the media sound bite.
Reporters love sound bites because they make for lively copy. The public enjoys them because they’re memorable. And you’ll benefit from them because they can serve as a perfect delivery vehicle for your messages.
I always try to look out for particularly clever and well-phrased media sound bites. In this post, you’ll find seven of my recent favorites.
Related: 10 Ways To Create Memorable Media Sound Bites
1. This sound bite has a clear political point of view—but ignore the politics and look at the structure. If you’re on the other side of the aisle, you can simply replace the name “Sarah Palin” with a different name. I was unable to find the source of this sound bite.
“Getting a history lesson from Sarah Palin is like getting your teeth cleaned by a proctologist.”
2. During the 2012 election season, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was briefly discussed as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney. Huckabee dismissed the buzz with this clever sound bite:
“I think there’s a greater likelihood that I’ll be asked by Madonna to go on tour as her bass player.”
3. While promoting her book about women in the workplace, Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, offered this memorable quip:
“Men still run the world. And I’m not sure that’s going that well.”
4. Knocking her opponent for what she maintained was his lack of political action, Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes said this:
“If the doctors told Sen. [Mitch] McConnell he had a kidney stone, he wouldn’t pass it.”
5. Congressman Hal Rodgers (R-KY), speaking about the challenge his party’s Speaker of the House faces in running his caucus, quipped:
“It’s a little bit like being the head caretaker of the cemetery. There are a lot of people under you, but nobody listens.”
6. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV), who was accused of a conflict of interest for supporting medical procedures that helped her physician-husband, used this analogy:
“I won’t stop fighting to give Nevadans access to affordable health care just because my husband is a doctor, just like I won’t stop standing up for veterans just because my father served in World War II.”
7. Finally, here’s a sound bite that any parent will appreciate:
“Cleaning a house with a toddler is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.”
For more tips on how to develop your own media sound bites, check out my video below.
Like the blog? Read the book! The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview is available in paperback, for Kindle, and iPad.
These are great examples, Brad. So here’s the question–how many do you think were prepared, and how many were off the cuff? I ask because the off-the-cuff remarks do risk the seven-second stray.
Thanks for raising that point — you’re right that a sound bite can easily become a “seven-second stray” if it’s not planned in advance. Although I don’t know the specifics of how these sound bites came about, I strongly suspect they were pre-scripted. I say that because I know how hard it is for most of our trainees to simply create these verbal gems accidentally. In The Media Training Bible, I share the story of how two famous sound bites came to be — one from O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnny Cochran, the other from 1988 Democratic VP nominee Lloyd Bentsen. Both planned their sound bites in advance with obvious success.
Thanks, as always, for reading!
Brad – When I was involved with Toastmasters International I gave a speech called, “Plan to be Spontaneous” wherein I referenced how President Kennedy would watch the presenters before him at any event and take notes in order to plan his ad libs.
I am new to your blog having just learned of it today. As a video professional, I would like to share a few tips with you to make your excellent video entries even better.
1. Improve the image quality by adding a light above and to the left of the camera to light the right side of your face. This will both brighten your skin tones and create the much-desired eye twinkle. You may need to experiment with the height of the light to avoid reflection from your glasses.
2. Consider standing rather than sitting. Your diaphragm will be less compressed and gestures can be broader. You will need to re-position your tripod and backdrop. (Be sure to check the level on both the camera and the backdrop so you don’t appear to be leaning in the frame.)
3. Turn your shoulders slightly by putting one foot forward toward the camera and frame the image to one side. This will give a sense of energy and look less like a mug shot where you were centered in the frame and up against the wall.
4. Improve the audio by using a lavalier mic instead of the camera mic. Your voice will sound more intimate — a key benefit of video communication. Also, place or hang a few furniture pads around your “studio” to absorb sound and reduce echo.
I believe this small investment in time and equipment will yield huge results. Let me know how it goes. See you on the screen.
Thank you very much for your comment and tips. First, I agree with your tips wholeheartedly. Some of the videos you’ve likely seen were from 2010, some of the earliest I recorded. Some of the newer ones are better, but still not perfect. As an example, check out this one from earlier this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKTy9l8sY3w&list=UUnAHQD1qaSZxZlSL3RzR2Fw.
I still have work to do, and your tips will help me get there. Do you have a website/webpage with more of these types of video shooting tips available?
Thanks for reading, writing, and helping to improve our videos!
About a decade ago I released a DVD through Amazon.com called, “How to Keep Your DO-IT-YOURSELF VIDEO from Looking Like You Did It Yourself.” It is now outdated and I recently took it off the market. Some teaser snippets may live on my YouTube Channel — encoded way before HD existed.
A lot of life has been getting in the way of my reasonably starting/maintaining an educational blog. Maybe someday. I love to teach and believe I know a few things after doing this for nearly 3 decades.
Keep up the good work. Part of my new job at Sharp HealthCare is helping with the media training for Physicians. I will refer to your work and try to talk my boss into buying your book.
Thanks very much for your kindness. Based on the wisdom you shared in the blog’s comments section, I’d welcome you to contribute a guest post if you’re interested. I suspect many other people would be interested in your insights, and I’d be glad to share any links to your social media/other pages.
If you’re interested, just drop me a line at Brad@PhillipsMediaRelations.com. And again, thank you.
Great post. Those were great sound bites. As it’s snowing right now up in Mass. I want to share with you a sound bite that we crafted with my Realtor Assoc president. She used it and it got picked up a lot. This was from a couple of years ago when we had 122″ of snow, yet home buyer demand was still strong. “Nothing says buyer demand like climbing over a snow bank to go to an open house.”
Keep up the great posts!
I’m snow-blind…112″ of snow!