101 Series: What is a Boilerplate?
It may be the most important paragraph you will write about your company. You have most likely seen it, but may not known what it was called or its origin. What is it? It is your boilerplate.
In public relations, the boilerplate is the last paragraph of a press release that describes the company product, service or brand featured. This should contain facts about the company (where are you based, what do you do, private/public, services, clients, awards) as well as some compelling information, your mission, positioning (first brand to do such and such). In the digital age, it should also contain hyperlinks to your website and/or social media profiles.
Plainly, it’s the “About Us” section that is copy and pasted onto every press release, fact sheet and any additional marketing communications materials – even on your company’s LinkedIn and social media profiles.
So where did this term come from?
The term boilerplate actually dates back to the 1800s when manufacturers of steam boilers would attach a metal plate on their boilers as a sort of trademark so people would know who made the boiler and where it was made. In the early newspaper days, they had “boilerplates” or actually printing plates for each company they covered regularly, so they could easily include the company background with stories they wrote. This saved time in the printing process. The term stuck.
Here’s an example of a boilerplate for our client, Liebherr:
Driven by innovation and characterized by sophisticated, elegant design, Germany-based Liebherr Corporation brings the best of Europe to the refrigeration category in North America. Visit www.liebherr-appliances.com to view Liebherr’s full product line of freestanding, built-in and fully integrated refrigeration and wine and humidor cigar storage units.
Check out the other installments of our 101 Series posts:
The Five Things You Shouldn’t Have Missed This Week: Friday, August 24
Volvo Ballerina Stunt with Faith Dickey - via I’d Rather Be Slacklining (see video)
China’s Green Pedestrian Crossing - via m0iety
Vibram mobile ad succeeds in driving viewers to online store - Mobile Marketer
Naked Harry scandal a watershed moment for UK press - via CNN
Microsoft gets a new logo for the first time since 1987 - via Seattle Times
The Five Things You Shouldn’t Have Missed This Week: Friday, July 27
The Augmented Reality Shoe Store - via DigitalBuzzBlog
London Eye To Become Twitter Sentiment Gauge During Olympics - via Media Bistro
Foursquare Introduces Promoted Updates For Mobile: “Search Ads For The Real World” - via Marketing Land
Carolina Panther Ryan Kalil Takes Out Full-Page Newspaper Ad Guaranteeing A Panthers Super Bowl Victory- via Deadspin
Fashion Retailer Integrates Instagram Onto Product Pages - via Mashable
The Five Things You Shouldn’t Have Missed This Week: Friday, July 20
Volkswagen: Voice Activated Interactive Banner - via DigitalBuzzBlog
Shell “Let’s Go” campaign a brilliant, elaborate hoax - UPI.com
IKEA Airport Lounge Helps Passangers Relax While Waiting For Their Flight- via DVICE
Play life-sized Monopoly on the Streets of Chicago - via Adverblog
Rapper Pitbull exiled to remote Alaska Wal-Mart in wake of Facebook poll - via Alaska Dispatch
101 Series: What does # # # mean at the end of a press release?
Number sign, pound sign, #, hashtag.
On Twitter, the number sign (#) denotes a hashtag. However, when used in journalism and public relations, the number sign has come to have a different meaning entirely.
Three number signs/pound symbols (###), centered directly above the boilerplate or underneath the body copy in a press release, indicate to media that there is no further copy to come. The reporter or editor will know they have the full document in hand. An alternative way of formatting the end of a press release, depending on your J-school professor, is to use “-30-.“
While for PR pros using ###, -30-, or sometimes even –END-, is habit, many of us don’t know why or where it originated. There are several theories––from the Civil War era when Western Union 92 Code of telegraphic shorthand was used to signify the end of a transmission, to a time when stories were written in longhand and X marked the end of a sentence, XX the end of a paragraph, and XXX the end of a story (XXX=30 in Roman numerals). You may have missed them, but pop culture has also seen references to “-30.” The finale of the TV series The Wire, which concerned the media, was called “-30-“; an episode of Law & Order about a poisoned reporter was also titled “30”; Bugs Bunny even utters, “That’s -30- for today” in a cartoon.
Whichever symbol you decide to use, don’t forget that it comes out of tradition and respect, and simply means…
- Lara Cohn, Senior Vice President/Director of Public Relations
# # #
Check out the previous installments of our 101 Series:
The Five Things You Shouldn’t Have Missed This Week: Friday, June 22
Save the Troy Library “Adventures In Reverse Psychology” - See above video
CBS gets revenge on ABC with fake press release - via MSNBC
Adidas Climacool: Ready to Run Experiential Campaign - via DigitalBuzzBlog (See video)
JetBlue Launches Online Game Show - via Media Post
Twitter-Activated Vending Machine Launched In South Africa - via Forbes
101 Series: What Is a Hashtag?
You’ve heard the term “hashtag.” If you’re on Twitter, you’ve almost certainly seen it. You may have even seen one in the lower corner of your favorite TV shows recently. But what exactly is a hashtag? The term frequently gets thrown around, but you might not actually know what it is. Well, in this 101 Series, we’re here to help you understand exactly what a hashtag is.
Twitter defines a hashtag the following way:
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
A hashtag is simply a number sign with text following it (ex. #sample). It essentially acts as a filing system that allows people to assign tags to certain topics, and letting others find the topic easily. When you click on a hashtag via Twitter, it will show other tweets that have been tagged the same way.
By knowing (or finding out) what a specific tag is, people can easily follow and/or join in a particular conversation. For example, fans of the Fox show Fringe started a hashtag campaign on Twitter with the hope of saving the show. Fans would use the title of the week’s episode as the hashtag. The goal was to turn the titles into trending topics. Since trending topics are chosen, in part, on surges of popularity, #fringe would be more difficult to become a trend. But as the title of each episode would be new each week, it would be easier to tap into the fan base and generate trending topics. The fan-generated effort was soon supported by the network, which featured the tags on screen during the episode. This effort has been credited (even if unofficially) as being a major force in the show’s renewal.
Another example of hashtag use is Twitter chats. One example is #journchat which focuses on PR and journalism; another is #CmgrChat which focuses on community management. A Twitter chat is exactly what it sounds like: a chat on Twitter, which any twitter user can join, at a pre-selected time. Hashtags are used to follow along and participate. Each time someone comments, they simply add the appropriate tag to their tweet.
Hashtags have moved beyond Twitter and are commonplace on other platforms such as Google+ and Instagram. On each, they act the same way and with the same purpose as on Twitter.
In short, a hashtag is a content-discovery and filing system. Discover. Tag. Participate.
The Five Things You Shouldn’t Have Missed This Week - Friday, June 01
‘I love NY’ logo is dropping its iconic heart - via The Star (See Video)
Universal Studios Transforms Staples Center in Publicity Stunt - via Agency Spy
Under Armour, Funny or Die Release Web Video Featuring Tom Brady - via Ad Age
Samsung scores PR victory with picture of kangaroo on a unicycle - via PR Daily
BBC Frozen Planet Augmented Reality Event - via Digital Buzz Blog
Five Things Your Marketing Team Can Learn from The Avengers
The Avengers. The blockbuster film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures has been shattering box office records around the globe. If you haven’t seen it, you almost certainly have heard of it. Boiled down to the simplest form, the Avengers are a group of super-talented, highly specialized individuals, who come together to defeat an enemy that none could handle on their own. A team. Together, they become something stronger than what they could be individually.
Just like the Avengers, the whole of your marketing and communications team should be stronger than its individual parts. Ideally, each person has a specialized function, different tools, and a different perspective. Someone handles creative, someone handles PR, someone handles planning, etc. By taking some basic items into consideration, you can start to transform your marketing team into a super marketing team. Many times, this is exactly where an agency can fulfill these needs.
Here are five tips your marketing team can learn from The Avengers.
- Understand that each member has specialized skills, and let them use their expertise. Let your PR person handle PR. Let your media planner plan. Let your social media member connect the social dots. Let your designers be creative. You’ve brought your team together for a reason. Let them do what they do best.
- Contribute. While you do have to listen to the rest of the team, you are a valuable component and your thoughts should be heard. Speak up and share your ideas, as you may offer a different perspective on things that can help drive new ideas. An overabundance of ideas is often better than a lack of them.
- Have the right tools and know how to use them. Captain America has his shield, Iron Man his suit, Thor his hammer, Hawkeye his bow. Each is a master of their respective weapons. Making sure you have the right tools for the job allows you to plan, prepare and execute properly.
- Bring in new talent when needed. In the film, S.H.I.E.L.D. needed the Avengers, and each member needed each other. They understood this and recruited new members to the team when needed, with each new member bringing a new specialty and/or resource.
- Have a plan (aka strategy). It should go without saying, but you should always have a plan. The Avengers were brought together through a plan, and always had a plan when they faced an opponent. Know what your working toward, make sure each member knows the goal and their individual responsibilities, and know how you’re going to reach that goal.