What’s in a Boilerplate?

28 Sep What’s in a Boilerplate?

What’s more difficult than coming up with a good press release headline? Coming up with the boilerplate. Ok, so you don’t have to write a new boilerplate for every press release like you do a headline, but regardless, boilerplates are a pain to write for that very reason – they are on every published announcement. Thus, all the more pressure to write a strong, effective statement.

A boilerplate is designed to give readers a quick sense of what your company is all about – that can include its history, names of founding executives, target audience, whatever makes the most sense for your market.  Everyone reads them at different points in time, but personally when I’m reading a press release from an unfamiliar company, I tend to read the first paragraph and then skip down to the boilerplate. I do this so that I can better understand the meat of the press release.

Anyway, as difficult as they are to write, I can’t help but get irritated when I see lame ducks at the ends of releases. Ones that look like they were thrown together at the last minute, or have so much jargon that it takes three or four reads before you get an idea of what the company does. So what makes a good boilerplate?  A recent PR Newsarticle highlights some quick tips.

  1. Be specific.  Don’t use bland language that will make people scratch their heads in bewilderment. Get to the point and spell out a version of your elevator pitch. (Don’t have an elevator pitch, you say? Develop one!)
  2. Tell the truth.  I hope this goes without saying, but keep your facts straight. You don’t want anyone, let alone the media, to call your bluff. At the same, don’t sell yourself short either.
  3. Focus on what’s special. What makes you different from competitors? Don’t gloat, but give a meaningful impression to your readers, one that will entice them to read more of your news, or better yet, visit other sections of your website.
  4. Be a problem solver. The “who” is important in a boilerplate, but so is the “why”. Include some good nuggets about why your company exists and the purpose it serves within its particular market.
  5. Use numbers.  Just like in pitches, press release body paragraphs, interviews, etc., numbers are attractive to read. They’re eye catching and help explain a story or make a point. Whether it’s the number of employees you have, sales numbers or growth percentages, they can be used to your advantage. Just don’t overload the boilerplate with too many confusing numbers, and most importantly, make sure the numbers are up-to-date.
  6. Name names. Do you have a well-known CEO? What about attractive client names? If they’re ok with you naming them, then by all means, include them! After all, they will appreciate the love.
  7. Be selective. As a college professor always told us in class, never give a kitchen sink answer. (Honestly, Dr. Junger would mark students down if they gave him everything but the “kitchen sink” in our exam answers. Apparently, it only makes you look like you don’t know what aptoide apk download you’re talking about, or who your audience is.) I couldn’t agree more. Don’t list out everything you know or want to say. Not only do you not have the space to do that, but no one wants to hear it. Diarrhea of the mouth can never be good, so stick to the point.
  8. Stay current. Boilerplates don’t need to change with every release, but it’s always good to refresh them once in a while. Whether it’s updating client names, switching around a sentence or two or starting over from scratch – keep them up to date and fresh to match your other press and marketing materials.

Another tip I’d suggest is to not use language directly copied from your website. Of course you can mirror messages, but don’t just regurgitate the same information. And of course, make sure you keep your audience in mind – meaning, cover your bases and make sure your boilerplate speaks to the clients you have, as well as the clients you want to have. Make yourself sound current, while forward thinking as well. One final idea is to include social media. Are you heavily active on various channels? Do you put a lot of thought and time toward developing them? If so, you might want to consider adding your social pages to your boilerplate, alongside your website’s address.

Every company requires different attention areas, so one boilerplate is never going to look identical to another.  Take time and consideration into yours and tell your story in the more effective, concise way as possible.

– Mary Evans

Mary Evans
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