PR Tips: Why a Boilerplate Can Make or Break Your PR Activity
A boilerplate is the often-overlooked afterthought when it comes to public relations. But did you know that it’s one of the most crucial pieces of information to include in your press release or external communications in order to tell a compelling story for your brand?
What is a boilerplate?
Essentially, a boilerplate is a short corporate summary which gives a brief description of your company, its ethos and history. It should be concise and standardised across all external facing documents and both engaging and informative to help give journalists and recipients the essential information they may need to understand your brand and finalise any given piece of content.
A good boilerplate will be remembered and showcase your brand story in a captivating way, as a result giving you additional brand authority and hopefully more coverage.
Where should a boilerplate sit?
A boilerplate should sit at the end of your press release or external comms.
Having this consistency for journalists will enable them to join the dots and build familiarity with your brand.
With recognition of your boilerplate, a journalist is potentially more likely to give your press release that extra bit of attention you’re looking for.
How to write a boilerplate
If you approach writing a boilerplate as just another box to check, you risk giving a bad impression and damaging your reputation.
Boilerplates can be written in several different ways, but here’s our useful tips on writing a successful boilerplate for your press release:
Make It Easy To Read
A journalists’ inbox is a busy place to be. There is a lot of competition for PR’s, and if a journalist has made it far enough through your pitch to get to your boilerplate, you’re doing a pretty good job – so don’t let a lacklustre approach to the final piece of the puzzle be what trips you at the very last hurdle!
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that journalists do not want to have to work hard to understand what your company is about or spend an age reading through a dull corporate paragraph you’ve left them at the end of your release.
A journalist will only want and need certain information from your boilerplate, so making it digestible and engaging for them is imperative.
Think about keeping your boilerplate in short paragraphs or even bullet-point format – that way a journalist can skim through and extract the information they need without having to take too much time out of their day.
Keep It Brief
Give yourself a word limit if that’s something you’d feel would help too. We’d advise that a boilerplate should be around the 150 words mark.
There will no doubt be snippets of information that you want the journalist to spot. If your information is buried in waffle, they’re more likely to miss it. Or worse, disregard your press release entirely as a result of bad formatting.
Keep It Simple
Keeping your boilerplate visually simple comes hand in hand with keeping the language used simple too.
Avoid using too many fancy adjectives and long-winded phrases to describe just how amazing your brand is. You’ll only make the journalist roll their eyes and move on to the next one.
Instead, keep the language clear and simple. Think about how you would summarise your brand in a sentence or two in conversation with friends and go for an accessible approach.
Just like the visual format, this will help keep the content digestible and give the journalist all the facts that they need in a readable way. Efficiency with your information is key.
Don’t Assume Understanding
Avoid acronyms. Every workplace has them, and let’s be honest, we’ve all watched Line of Duty and been unable to tell the difference between our AC-12’s, OCG’s and DCI’s (but have without doubt Googled it to keep up!). Your brand acronyms are the same.
An unexplained acronym is only giving the journalist ammunition to put your release to the side. Don’t make them work for the information. If you must include one, ensure you spell it out in an understandable way and don’t assume they are au fait with your company or industry lingo.
Hyperlinks are your Friend
A call-to-action is an essential element of a good boilerplate. Putting a CTA in the main body of text will dilute the story. More importantly, would irritate the journalist who will subsequently ignore your request, so don’t be afraid to add links to your boilerplate signposting the journalist directly to your company website.
Whilst it’s not guaranteed that the journalist will backlink to your business – in fact sadly it’s highly unlikely – there’s still a probability that if it is deemed relevant to the story, they may just do that, or at the very least, click through for more information.
Save the journalist the time and effort and put your website link right under their nose.
As well as a weblink, a CTA can include a contact number, email, prompt to purchase, download, book or ‘find out more’. A CTA is essentially something you would like the reader or end consumer to know or do and removes all barriers that would prevent them from doing it.
Was your brand the first to accomplish something major in the industry?
Do you hold a high ranking for something of relevance?
Have you received an award for innovation in the workplace?
The boilerplate is the perfect spot to shout about those amazing things your business has achieved. Don’t be afraid to show off just how great your company is and provide the evidence to prove it. Let the facts and figures do the talking!
Boilerplates For Your Spokesperson
While you may be acing your brand boilerplate, if your press release features the insights of any key spokespersons, it is good practise to also include a bit of background on them.
Approach this as a micro-bio, including the absolute need-to-knows on your spokesperson that surmises why they are an expert or thought leader in their field. Make sure to outline their USP’s and signpost how journalists might be able to get in contact with them for more – whether that’s directly on LinkedIn, or via the team in the press office.
It’s key to remember that journalists will receive hundreds of pitches a day, so we hope these boilerplate tips will help your brand pip your competitors press releases to the post.
Don’t be afraid to copy and paste your boilerplate between releases but do be mindful of keeping it up to date and review it on a regular basis to ensure you provide the most accurate information you can.
Let the release do the hard work there. If your release ticks the boxes, and your company info is concise, your brand is more likely to be front of mind in future.
Remember, the key to writing a good press release boilerplate is it keep it simple, keep it factual, keep it light and make sure it is accessible. Use these tips and you’ll be using boilerplates to your every advantage going forwards!