How to Make Your Boilerplate Sizzle

You know what a boilerplate is, right? It’s that one-paragraph, “About Us” chunk of copy you slap at the end of every press release you kick out the door.

If you’re like most organizations, this paragraph often gets reused across all sorts of sales and marketing communications, which makes it the most important paragraph in your company.

The term “boilerplate” actually dates back to the late 1800s (or early 1900s, depending on who you ask), when manufacturers of steam boilers would attach a metal plate so people would know who made the boiler.

In the early days of the printing press, organizations would produce standardized text on metal plates that could be reused whenever a story mentioned a particular company. This saved time in the printing process.

Today, this has led to the consistent use of an “About Us” paragraph on press releases. In the digital age, it’s important that you spend the necessary time to write a great boilerplate. It will most likely appear in thousands of places across the Web through your regular PR and marketing activities.

How to Write a Great Boilerplate

I think a great boilerplate is one part “just the facts” and one part positioning statement (the “so what?” of what you do).

  • Just the Facts – where is your company based? What do you do? Are you public or private? How many employees do you have? Your boilerplate should include some factual information, and don’t forget to include a phone number and website address.
  • Positioning Statement – since this paragraph will be used all over the place, use it as an example to communicate something compelling about what you do. For example, were you the 1st company to do something? Are you really the leader in your category? Do 90 percent of the Fortune 500 use your products? Include this information. Be sure to mention who you serve and what your differentiation is. This information might get cut by editors, but you’ve done your part to educate people about what you do.

Template Example of a Boilerplate

There’s no right or wrong way to write a boilerplate, but here’s a template to get you started:

XYZ Company is an [City, State] based company that provides [Products] to [Customers, Target Audience]. Since [Year You Started], XYZ Company has consistently [Value Proposition]. XYZ Company is [Key Fact – such as “a publicly traded company on the NYSE” or “a Inc. 500 Company.”]. For more information on XYZ Company, please call [Phone] or visit [Website].

This is a very basic template to follow. Here is a great example of a boilerplate from a recent Facebook Press Release:

Founded in February 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Facebook is a privately held company and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.

Notice that Facebook’s boilerplate is a mix of factual and positioning information? The company doesn’t include a hyperlink in its boilerplate, but most people know where to find Facebook online. This is a good example of a boilerplate you can model yours after.

Do you think you have a great boilerplate? Share it. Do you have some tips for writing great boilerplates? Let us know.

(Image Credit: Boilerplate_Folsom by mk94577)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

13 Comments

  1. Great article! Here are two examples of boilerplates that I use hand-in-hand as we promote an upcoming charitable event. Both are concise yet informative:

    About Medinah Patriot Golf Day
    Medinah Patriot Golf Day is a fundraising event taking place July 8, 2010, at Medinah Country Club to benefit Folds of Honor Foundation. The day’s events will include a golf tournament, dinner, silent auction, entertainment and more. For more information, to become a corporate sponsor or to volunteer, visit http://www.MedinahPatriotDay.com.

    About Folds of Honor Foundation
    The Folds of Honor Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children and spouses of military service men and women killed or disabled while serving our great nation. Visit http://www.FoldsofHonor.com for more information.

  2. Great post. Our boilerplate, I think, follows your rules fairly well:

    My Creative Team is a Huntersville, NC-based network of highly experienced and talented independent professionals that gives Fortune 1000 clients better work that’s a better value. The ad agency delivers great work, on time and on target, and that makes the client look good.

  3. Good topic and points from Jeremy and Jackson. Stick to the facts – and keep it short. It amazes me how much time a company will spend on that one graph as opposed to the rest of their materials. Make each word count, but don’t use too many of them. You should be able to communicate information about your company in three to five sentences. This is also a good place to review the language to ensure that the words support SEO efforts.

  4. I also like Facebook’s boiler plate, but I think one of their editors should tweak it to remove that dangler in the first sentence. ”Founded in February 2004, Facebook’s mission is to …”

    (The mission wasn’t founded in 2004. The company was.)

  5. Disclosure: I am the SEM & Social Media Specialist @Marketwire (news release distribution)

    Great post on perfecting the boilerplate; users intending on sending a press release need to read this. There really is nothing else to add except that the website URL in the boilerplate should be the full URL as in http://www.marketwire.com as opposed to an anchor text. A mix of anchor texts and the full URL is recommended.

  6. It’s important to get the boilerplate right, and I like Jackson’s comment about length: shorter the better. Suzanne’s comment about SEO is spot on as well.

    I think you cover the Who, What, Where, How and get it done. Write it once in corporate PR speak, then rewrite it like a person in a casual conversation. Edit the buzzwords, technobabble or “lofty ideals” and speak to the audience. That’ll give it some sizzle.

  7. I like to use something I call ‘ the added value boilerplate’ – a statement that applies to a particular issue your organization is commonly associated with and can be replicated no matter what city this issue or event arises. As the last paragraph not only does the added-value boilerplate provide salient stats, but if I’m using it on a media advisory – reporters can often promo a story just using these impactful stats. Works like a charm.
    E.g.:
    According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, about 40,000 people in Canada experience sudden cardiac arrests each year, a majority of which occur either at home or in public places. In Ontario alone, approximately 7,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually. With each passing minute, the probability of survival declines by seven to 10 percent. Using an AED, combined with CPR, within the first few minutes can improve cardiac survival rates by more than 50 percent. For more information: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/restart.

  8. Thanks for the great info on boilerplates. I’m currently trying to write one and I’m stuck. We are a new non-profit established in 2010, however, prior to that we were operating the same programs with the same staff and same services under a different organization for over 20 years. I’m trying to find a way to add that into the boilerplate in one short paragraph..the reason I want to add this is so that people don’t assume that we’re only a few months old and just getting our feet wet. We’ve been doing this a while and don’t want to send the wrong idea. Any suggestions for me? I would appreciate it. Thank you!

  9. Thanks Jeremy.. I looking for info about The ” Boilerplate” phrase. Its like a seal on the letter , isn’t right?. when we put on every page of the website, whether it be counted as a duplicate?

    • Manufacturers of boilers – the things that heat water in old buildings – used to put a metal plate on their boilers as a sort of trademark. In a sense, it was the “about us” on the boilers, signaling who made it and where it was made. In PR, the boilerplate is the about us paragraph that is typically at the bottom of a press release – it provides all the factual information about a company. In the early newspaper days, they had “boilerplates” or actually printing plates for each company they covered regularly, so they could easily include the company background with stories they wrote. The term has stuck for a long time now.

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