Transforming a Tepid Boilerplate

Written by Maureen Paulsen on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Unfortunately a boilerplate becomes an afterthought for many organizations. Too often a boilerplate is regarded as just a basic company description that gets tacked onto the end of a news release, stuck into the introduction of a proposal, or sent along when you’re sponsoring an event. But consider who is reading all of those appearances: prospective customers, potential investors and partners, job seekers, journalists and more.  That’s a lot of action for something that probably gets little attention from your team!

Why it’s important

Sure, a boilerplate is ‘just’ a brief company profile, but it can also be a powerful way for you to communicate to the world who you are and why someone should care about you.  Even if you only use a boilerplate for press releases, if you’re taking the time and spending the money to distribute news about your organization, it’s important to make sure that every part of a release counts from start to finish.

Here are some tips to create an effective boilerplate:

  • Concisely and accurately describe what your company does and for whom you provide services. A boilerplate should be no more than one paragraph long, ideally about 75 words.  Talk specifically about what problems you solve for customers, key services you provide, etc.  Avoid industry jargon, buzzwords and acronyms.
  • Describe your strengths…truthfully. Steer clear of superlatives that can’t be backed up. If you say you are a leader in the field, you should actually be one. If they are verifiable, consider words like “award-winning,” “exclusive,” etc.
  • Focus on what’s unique. Are you the only company that provides a certain service in a region? Were you the first to introduce a certain product? Have you received a special industry honor or award?
  • Use numbers…selectively. Include specific figures if they are notable and set you apart. For example, the number of states or countries where you have customers, the years you’ve been in business (if a significant amount of time compared to competitors), etc.
  • Make a compelling close. Include a call to action for the reader to learn more and engage with your organization by providing your website link and social media handles (bonus points if you can incorporate value messaging into your call to action).
  • Dust it off twice a year. Revisit your boilerplate regularly to update any key numbers, add new awards or service lines, and confirm that your brand positioning statements are still relevant.

Here are a few examples of great boilerplates:

ABOUT Starbucks
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 26,000 stores around the globe, Starbucks is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit our stores or online at news.starbucks.com and Starbucks.com.

Not surprisingly, the Starbucks boilerplate packs a potent blend of factual company differentiators and value statements.  Simple, powerful and inviting, like a good cup of joe.

ABOUT APQC
APQC helps organizations work smarter, faster, and with greater confidence. It is the world’s foremost authority in benchmarking, best practices, process and performance improvement, and knowledge management. A member-based nonprofit, APQC partners with more than 500 organizations worldwide in all industries. With 40 years of experience, APQC remains the world’s leader in transforming organizations. Visit www.apqc.org, call +1.713.681.4020, or follow @APQC and learn how to Make Best Practices Your Practices®.

Our client, APQC, helps organizations around the world to improve, so they take great care in setting a good example with their marketing materials. The APQC boilerplate is a winner because it includes important company specifics, verifiable superlatives, and a compelling close that couples a call to action with a key value proposition.

Have writer’s block?

If you’re having trouble putting together a strong boilerplate, it may be time to examine your organization’s brand identity. The great (and sometimes scary) part about doing a checkup on your boilerplate is that it forces you to drill down to the essential elements and value proposition of your company.  If the key stakeholders in your organization can’t reach consensus describing who you are, what you do, and why you’re different, there’s a good chance you need to step back and reassess.

Our key message workshops are designed to address situations just like these, through facilitated sessions that help your team clearly identify your organization’s brand positioning and back it up with solid proof.  Contact us to learn more.

About Maureen Paulsen

Maureen brings 15 years of marketing and communications experience to her role, where she develops brand strategies and communications programs for a diverse group of clients. She specializes in creating innovative marketing and advertising campaign concepts. Maureen oversees content development and provides art direction for client collateral, Web and advertising to ensure brand consistency across all media formats. In 2011, she received a Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications.

Prior to joining MPD Ventures, Maureen worked as the Marketing Communications Manager for one of the largest law firms in Texas, where she led a major rebranding initiative. Her past experience includes freelance writing focusing on consumer and personal finance issues, as well as project management for a Boston-based energy services provider.

Maureen serves on the board of directors of Dallas non-profit agency Attitudes & Attire. She earned her undergraduate degree in English and Art History at Wellesley College.