June 26, 2016

Boil it down

Explain ‘About us’ in your boilerplate

Boilerplates: Can’t live without ’em, can’t get a decent one through approvals.

Boil it down

About us The term “boilerplate” dates back to the late 1800s, when boilermakers would stamp their company details on the end plate of a steam boiler so people would know who made it. Today, it also refers to hackneyed, overused writing. Image by Martin

boilerplate is the short “About us” paragraph at the end of your releases that describes your organization.

It’s the boilerplate’s ubiquitousness that makes it important. Your boilerplate gets used over and over again. Depending on the scope and reach of your media relations efforts, your boilerplate could be posted and published thousands and thousands of times — and read by millions and millions of people.

Some PR pros argue that that makes the boilerplate the most important paragraph in your organization.

The problem is, too many PR boilerplates are far too long, too broad and too fluffy to be very useful.

Include just the facts, ma’am.

What goes into a good boilerplate?

To decide, think like a reader. Ask, “What would a journalist or blogger need to know to define my company in an article or post?”

For the most part, you’ll want to stick to the 5 W’s. You might want to include:

WHOM you help. AllianceBernstein’s boilerplate, for instance, says, “For over 40 years, AllianceBernstein Investments, Inc., … has helped investors …”

WHAT you make or do. AllianceBernstein: ” … by providing innovative investment solutions from a diverse line of investment vehicles including mutual funds, college savings (529) plans, retirement products and separately managed accounts.”

WHERE you’re located. Olympic Paints and Stains, for instance, mentions that the company is based in Pittsburgh.

WHERE readers can find you online. Create inbound links for your website. To optimize your boilerplate for news portals:

  • Link your company name to your home page
  • Include the URL in parentheses after your company name

Example:

Wylie Communications Inc. (http://www.WylieComm.com) …”

Learn more about why this approach works.

WHY you’re an industry leader. Don’t just call yourself a leader. Deliver a compelling proof point.

Rosetta Stone’s boilerplate, for instance, says, “Teaching 29 languages to millions of people over 150 countries …” and “For the second year in a row, Fairfield Language Technologies is one of the fastest growing technology companies in Virginia as ranked by Deloitte and Touche.”

And Tellabs’ boilerplate offers this proof point: “… 43 of the top 50 global communications service providers choose our mobile, optical, business and services solutions.”

Other details to consider. You might also include:

  • Your stock ticker symbol, if applicable.
  • The year you were founded, if notable. American Express, for instance, notes that it was founded in 1850. Wylie Communications, on the other hand, doesn’t mention that it was founded in 1996.
  • Your size in annual revenues; assets under management; number of employees, clients, members, outlets or products sold; or other measures that makes sense for your organization.
  • Build a Better Release

    Tap current best practices, from lead to boilerplate

    Prose is architecture, Hemingway famously said. It’s not interior design.

    Are you building a compelling foundation for your media relations pieces? Or are you still using structural techniques you learned when you were 19?

    At Portland Public Relations Writing workshop - NOT Your Father's PR PieceNOT Your Father's PR Piece — a two-day PR-writing Master Class on July 27-28 in Portland, Oregon — you’ll learn how to organize PR pieces to grab reader attention, keep it for the long haul and leave a lasting impression.

    Specifically, you'll learn to how to:

    • Decide between triangles, boxes or lists: Choose a structure that increases readership, understanding and satisfaction with your message. (Hint: The structure you’re using now is probably doing the opposite.)
    • Steal a trick from The New York Times: Trade in your bloated fact packs for snappy synthesis leads.
    • Build a better benefits lead with our fill-in-the-blanks approach.
    • Avoid PR 101 leads. Still stuffing all those W’s and the H into the first paragraph? Still writing “XYZ Company today announces that …”? It’s time to move on to a more effective approach.
    • Beat the boilerplate blues. Here’s one way to stay off The Bad Pitch Blog.

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Portland PR Writing workshop - NOT Your Father's PR Piece


    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house NOT Your Father's PR Piece workshop? Contact Ann directly.

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