The art of the press release

Writing press releases is a discipline, one with its own rules and conventions. Take, for example, two press releases related to Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film.

Here’s a passage from the November press release where Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Corp. officially announced the new 007 film would be called Skyfall:

“We’re so delighted to have Sam Mendes direct SKYFALL and be working once again with Daniel Craig. We’ve a great script, an extraordinary cast and an incredibly talented creative team for this latest James Bond adventure,” said (Michael G.) Wilson and (Barbara) Broccoli.

And here’s the Feb. 8 press release where Heineken International announced a product-placement deal with Skyfall:

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the SKYFALL producers added: “The level of collaboration with Heineken® is unprecedented. We are excited by the global reach and the creativity that the Heineken® team is able to deliver.”

If you interpreted these quotes literally, then Wilson and Broccoli would be speaking the identical words, either simulaneously or in turn. Either way, it would be a surreal experience to watch.

HEINEKEN REPRESENTATIVE: What do you think, Mr. Wilson?

WILSON: The level of collaboration with Heineken® is unprecedented. We are excited by the global reach and the creativity that the Heineken® team is able to deliver.

HEINEKEN REPRESENTATIVE: And what are your thoughts, Ms. Broccoli?

BROCCOLI: The level of collaboration with Heineken® is unprecedented. We are excited by the global reach and the creativity that the Heineken® team is able to deliver.

Chances are, it probably didn’t happen that way.

With many press releases, the actual quote is drafted by the writer of the press release. The press release is then circulated to those whose names are cited whether they like the quote or not. If they do, it goes out as written. If not, it’s altered until they do approve.

In this case, Wilson and Broccoli are co-heads of Eon Productions, and both the official Skyfall and Heineken release wants to present them as equals. Also, does anyone think the producers actually talk this way?

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