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How to Be Quotable: 9 Tips for Advisors
Impact Communications, Inc.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Partner Insights

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful,” advised Warren Buffett when discussing investment strategy.

Jonny Cochran famously told a jury, “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” The phrase, while certainly controversial in many circles, became an unforgettable sound bite for the media.

Repeating one or two words (or making them rhyme) can make the point succinctly and create a stickier sound bite.


Donald Patrick, CFP, founder of Integrated Financial Group, was asked to comment on alternative investments and asset allocation. Rather than droning on about the complexities of the topic to a mainstream reporter, he said something like this:

“Building a good investment portfolio is like cooking a big pot of soup. You fill the pot with fresh vegetables and a little meat, season the soup and simmer. You might add a pinch of cayenne. By itself, the cayenne will kill you. But a pinch can make the dish.” 

Guess who was quoted in the article? It wasn’t the advisor who provided a two-page essay explaining everything there is to know about risk tolerance and asset allocation.


People love stories and real life examples – especially journalists. Lead with a short example such as, “In my work with clients who are concerned about outliving their money…” or “I met recently with a couple of clients who are worried about outliving their retirement income…”

Statistics can be striking, but stories draw us in and hold our attention. Which of the following opening statements do you think will attract the most readers?

[A] A new survey by Pew Research found that 48% of middle-aged adults with grown children gave them financial support in 2012. Some 21% with a parent age 65 or older gave financially.

[B] Des Moines, Iowa-based couple Suzie and Tom Hansen are, according to a new survey by Pew Research, like most (48%) middle-aged adults with grown children. Because of the continued recession, they provided some form of financial support to help their adult children weather the storm. Their son, Jimmy Hansen, and his wife Mary have been struggling to make ends meet due to a new baby and layouts at the GM factory.”

The study is in itself compelling (and perhaps disheartening for those middle-aged adults), but the statistics alone die on the page. Instead, add details that bring the story to life and make it personal for the reader. Just make sure your stories aren’t verbose. Get to the point!


A meaningful comparison can often take a complex concept and sum it up more concisely. So try making your point by creating a colorful parallel that resonates with your audience – something anybody can understand.

When talking about the Wall Street scandals in 2008-09, Deena Katz, CFP, chairman of Evensky & Katz, said: “There have been some very bad incidents in past years (Madoff and Stanford most recently) which have shaken the trust and confidence that people had in advisors.  This is a two-sided problem. Many people do not have the education to recognize if something is not right; some are looking for investment opportunities that are just too good to be true.  A little greed and a little vice make a big mess.  I always tell people ‘Never let anyone care more about your money than you do.’”

Katz makes her point in a way that gets the media to pay attention and quote her, rather than another expert.


Speak your comments out loud. Repeat them over and over to find the best inflection. Give yourself points if you can keep each sound bite to ten seconds. If you end up in an interview situation (especially on television), you want to be sure to get in all of your points. Make sure you can say each one succinctly.

Rehearsing mentally is helpful. But rehearsing your talking points out loud is essential in helping you sound more natural and spontaneous. Each time you rehearse, act as if you are saying the sound bites for the first time. With each attempt, subtle differences will emerge until it simply rolls off your tongue.


Your sound bites should evolve as you do. if your analogies sound outdated or your stories are no longer relatable, it’s time to refresh. Most importantly, make sure that your news releases, press request replies and pitch emails include at least one unforgettable sound bite that is so pithy and relevant that the journalist decides his or her story won't be the same without it.

Marie Swift (@marieswift on Twitter) and her team at Impact Communications have been working with independent financial advisors and allied institutions for twenty years. While the tools have changed, the communication essentials never do. Learn more at www.ImpactCommunications.org.

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(2) Comments
This is a really good piece with some nuggets on how to be precise, entertaining, engaging, informative and newsworthy all at the same time. All business leaders would do well to practice this.
Posted by tasha123 s | Friday, October 18 2013 at 10:39AM ET
The best speakers have always stayed on point and used plain language to support their point. Don't include irrelevant material, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Instead of copious notes that you're tempted to rely on, index cards with your heading and subheadings or a outline on the subject will keep you on track.
Posted by KIMMY B | Sunday, February 16 2014 at 8:35AM ET
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