When writing a press release, you will need to include further information about your company for the journalist’s reference. This copy usually goes at the bottom of the press release so it doesn’t detract from the main narrative and is known as ‘a boilerplate’.
A boilerplate can be summed up as:
A compelling narrative that summarises your brand/business in a quick, easy and simple way, including mission, company story and achievements.
Note the use of the word ‘compelling’. Boilerplate copy can be rather dull because it’s standardised text that needs to be copy and pasted again and again. But it doesn’t have to be boring – in fact you could stand out by using your imagination, adding a video or an infographic, say. The most important part is that the information is available and easy to digest.
When writing boilerplate copy there are a few key factors to bear in mind. Here are top four ‘dos’ to remember when writing a boilerplate.
Boilerplate For Your Press Release – Top Four Dos
1.DO make the text concise
Journalists tend to have a low attention span and are usually short on time. Having to meet regular deadlines, make editorial decisions, keep up with social media etc kind of does that to you.
If your press release stands out enough for them to read, they will then then check the boilerplate for more information. And they won’t want to read through reams of irrelevant information. So, it’s best to keep things short and to the point.
The main elements to include are your company’s name, main tagline (usually included at the start of the boilerplate), up-to-date information such as recent milestones, any awards (if relevant) and the date the business was founded.
This needs to be neatly packaged-up and written concisely. A good rule of thumb is to try not to make your boilerplate more than around 75 to 100 words.
2.DO make sure key messaging is up-to-date and relevant
Messaging is important when it comes to PR and content strategy so your communication channels are aligned.
But if you’re just starting out you may not have got around to this yet. If you haven’t and you’re keen to get the press release out as soon as possible, just use your tagline – your ‘slogan’. This should be the same as your website tagline, the one-liner that sums up what your business offers.
And if you have time to work on core messages before you send the press release out, be sure to keep them simple, positive, up-to-date and easy to understand. You can always expand on them later with a further brainstorming session.
3. DO Be consistent
Boilerplates need to be consistent because they are used across all communications and marketing materials and will potentially appear in hundreds of places online. The boilerplate should be in step with your values which are conveyed through your core messages and streamlined with your website and other marketing assets.
Also remember to keep the tenses consistent across all communications materials. Best not to switch to the first person if you use the third person on your site. In fact, best to avoid the first person unless the press release is about you!
4. DO Include social media handles and Your website
Boilerplate For Your Press Release – Top Four Don’ts
1. Don’t Use Clichés Or Jargon
Clichés and jargon are a big no-no when it comes to press releases.
Jargon can be described as specialised, technical language used by people within a particular profession. Clichés can be described as common and overused and fail to impart any impact on your sentence. It’s best to avoid both and use plain language.
2. DON’T waffle
It can be tempting to mention every achievement and success. But the most readable boilerplates are short, sweet and straight to the point. If you’re unsure whether your boilerplate is too long or not, get a second opinion which brings us too…
3. DON’T Forget To Get a second opinion
Another pair of eyes is so important when it comes to any communications you send out. Small mistakes can be easily missed. Getting a second or even a third opinion is the best way to avoid typos and ensure the tone is right.
4. Don’t use hyperbolic language
This may sound obvious but it’s best not to make claims that you cannot prove are true. Keep to your core messages and don’t exaggerate. If you have achieved something incredible, by all means shout about it, but best to leave out something that is a ‘work in progress’.
Remember that you can always mention future plans to the journalist if you speak at some stage, perhaps ask if they will be interested in covering it in another article.
Boilerplates are there to build credibility and summarise your company’s story and achievements.. As mentioned previously there are many ways to make boilerplates more exciting so don’t be frightened to think creatively. You can include links to case studies, infographics, previous media (as long as it’s relevant). A boilerplate doesn’t have to be hackneyed or unoriginal – as Wikipedia puts it. It’s about finding the right balance between informative, concise, accurate and interesting.