I came across this wonderful reminder about the often overlooked and under-appreciated boilerplate today via Ragan.com – “The Secret Formula for Writing Boilerplate.” So often, people want to include everything and the kitchen sink in their company’s boilerplate – or, as Russell Working points out, they want to fill it with flowery-sounding jargon. However, as PR pros, we need to remind clients that boilerplates are meant to be simple, straightforward company descriptions that tell what your company is and what it does.
Working uses the example of reporters turning to a company’s Wikipedia page to get this information when a straightforward description isn’t easy to find on the company’s website or Facebook page. I’ve had to resort to doing this myself. And while Wikipedia is a great resource in many instances, when it comes to my clients, I’d rather provide reporters with correct, precise company info than leave it up to the crowdsourcing masses. And so, along with Working, I’d like to give a shout-out to the lowly boilerplate and hope that readers will carry with them three key takeaways for writing this important copy:
- Limit your first sentence to no more than 20 words, max – state who you are, what you do, and where you are headquartered (this takeaway courtesy of Working).
- Keep it short and simple and stay away from jargon. Have someone completely unfamiliar with your company or industry read your boilerplate and make sure it makes sense to them. If it does, you’re probably on the right track.
- Don’t forget to include your company URL and links to your top one or two social media properties to point readers in the right direction for everything else.