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:
101 Series: What is Native Advertising?
There’s been a lot of chatter among marketing/communications pros in recent months involving a new buzzword for a relatively old phenomenon: Native Advertising. There’s a good chance you’ve come across this digital marketing tactic while reading your favorite blog and if done correctly, hopefully you didn’t realize that it was in fact an advertisement.
In a nutshell, native advertising is when brands pay for sponsored content on a blog. The placement takes on the look and feel of an editorial post yet it’s paid advertising. Many insiders including PRNewser’s Patrick Coffee will tell you that traditional paid media, such as banner ads are on their way out and native advertising is taking on a greater role in brands’ marketing campaigns. Not only does native advertising provide greater opportunities for brands to share in-depth content with online audiences, but it also allows publications to have more control over the advertising they feature as many write the copy with approval from the advertiser.
Buzzfeed is an excellent example of a website utilizing native advertising. Scroll down on their feed on any given day and if you look closely you’ll see posts highlighted with an unique background, noting that it’s “Presented By a Featured Partner.” Many brands are taking advantage and using native advertising on the popular site to share a message connected with their product or service such as the recent post, 14 Reasons Why You Should Be Afraid Of The Dark presented by the SyFy network.
Native advertising is not an entirely new concept. Marketers have long-since paid for sponsored content in traditional print publications better known as advertorials, however now this strategy is moving online, yet another indication that marketers are continuing to infiltrate the digital landscape.
Check out the other installments of our 101 Series posts:
Inspiration from Unlikely Places: The Walking Dead
Inspiration can come out of nowhere. Without warning you can experience a flood of ideas. Other times you know exactly where your inspiration came from––you were listening to a song or reading a book, watching a movie or even reviewing plans. Inspiration can even come from something as simple as an apple falling from a tree.
One unlikely source of inspiration is The Walking Dead. No, not the TV show (though that can serve as an example as well), but the novel…the graphic novel. Let’s take a look at some of the lessons we can glean from that book, and see how they might serve to offer inspiration in business, and especially marketing.
- Adapt or die. It could be the mantra for this book, and the same could be said when it comes to marketing. The world evolves around you, and to stay competitive, you must evolve with it––learning new skills, forging new partnerships, developing new plans. In a world where everything changes so fast, the ability to make quick (and correct) decisions is key.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. By knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, you’ll be better equipped to deal with challenges. You’ll also know when you should seek help and surround yourself with those who can aid in your goals. By knowing everyone else’s particular strengths and weakness, it will be easier to assign tasks to the proper individuals.
- Things may not always be what they seem. Something that looks too good to be true just might be, but something that appears to have no value may have more value than you think. Always keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and obstacles. Situations change and when they do, you make need to look at your surroundings with a new perspective.
- Never give up. Always strive to move forward. If you have the best product or service, you need to let people know. If you have a great idea, make it happen. Tell your story and follow through!
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: