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 “an 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.