This is an update of a post originally published on February 11, 2014.
It’s a small thing, really, the company boilerplate that appears at the bottom of every press release. That part that’s headed with: About (Startup Name).
So why does the press release boilerplate capture so much attention? Why do we hem and haw over this language? Why do we rend our garments? What does rend mean anyway? [Editor’s note: to tear]
Writing press release boilerplate sounds simple – after all, it’s just a straight-up, factual description of a company and what it offers the world, right? But there is more than one way to approach it, and those ways are often wrong.
Sometimes boilerplate takes on the role of product brochure and corporate history. Often it’s filled with braggadocio. And far too often they're, well, far too long.
But if it’s hard to know what’s wrong, it can seem even harder to know what’s right, as most startup marketers don’t read boilerplates on a daily basis, which is why we’re on the hunt for examples when it comes time to write our own. However, we at Propllr are not like most of us. That is, we read all kinds of boilerplate. And we write it, too.
Here, we’ll offer some press release boilerplate examples you can learn from, as well as a formula for building your very own (very strong) boilerplate.
What Goes into a Press Release Boilerplate?
There’s no one example of how to do a press release boilerplate correctly. What you decide to include will ultimately depend on your company’s communication style and its current phase. For this post, I looked at a ton of boilerplates and found the most common content features are…
- Bragging: Words like “leading,” “best,” “biggest,” “amazing,” and “most.”
- Benefits: The “so what” that summarizes the benefits the company offers (more abstract than products and services).
- Aspiration: A high-level view of a company’s ultimate goals.
- Products and Services: A catalog of the company’s offerings.
- History: Dates when a company was founded or acquisitions were made.
- Size: Details about revenue, funding, geographical reach, client numbers, employee headcount, etc.
- Long vs. Short: Some are long, some are short, few are in-between.
- Funding: Not a common element, but a tally of venture capital raised to date.
- CTA: A call to action for prospects.
When you read as many boilerplates as we did, the great ones start to stand out. And in my totally unscientific opinion, the best boilerplate contains the following characteristics:
- Products / Services
- Size (if impressive)
In fact, the above components are so effective in boilerplate that you can think of that list as a sort of formula: aspiration + benefits + products / services + size (if you’re big) = great boilerplate.
Of course, it’s one thing to offer a formula. It’s another to actually weave these things together. With that in mind, I’ve captured some standout “About the company” blurbs to share. Some of these are excellent. Some are so-so. But they all have something to teach us about how to write boilerplate.
Press Release Boilerplate Examples from Leading Companies
The We Company, parent company of WeWork (Aspiration + Benefits + Short)
“The We Company’s guiding mission [is] to elevate the world’s consciousness. It will seek to help people live proactively and with purpose, be a student of life, for life, and accept that humans are always growing and in a constant state of self-discovery, self-growth and change.”
What to steal: Ok, the We Company leadership is batshit insane. We’re not sharing it because we believe their aspiration is sound, but because they have an aspiration at all. This boilerplate is a great example of how to think beyond the literal thing your company does (e.g., rent real estate) to the aspirational level of what impact it wants to have.
What to skip: Most startups don’t have the name recognition of The We Company, which means they can’t afford to totally ignore what they do in their boilerplate. Also, this thing is just 45 words long, but I found two mistakes: the missing “is” in the first sentence and the inconsistent use of the Oxford comma. Get a proofreader!
Reverb (Brag + History + Products & Services + CTA)
“Reverb.com is the leading online marketplace dedicated to buying and selling new, used, and vintage musical instruments. Since launching in 2013, Reverb has grown into a vibrant community of buyers and sellers all over the world. By focusing on inspiring content, price transparency, musician-focused, eCommerce tools, a music-savvy customer service team, and more, Reverb has created an online destination where the global music community can connect over the perfect piece of music gear. A portion of each sale on Reverb goes to Reverb Gives, which provides youth music programs all over the world with the instruments they need to make music. Visit www.reverb.com or download the mobile app.”
What to steal: The first sentence in this example is crystal clear. Aim to get the description of your services as succinct (thought the word “leading” is the leading cause of reporter eye-roll).
What to skip: The phrase “musician-focused” jumps out because it’s not in parallel structure with the rest of the list items. This makes for a confusing reading experience, which is jarring in an otherwise really effective blurb.
Airbnb (History + Services + Benefits + Size)
“Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone or tablet. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries. With Experiences, people can see a different side to a destination through unique, handcrafted activities run by locals, while a partnership with Resy provides access to the best local restaurants in selected countries. All of this is brought together in one easy-to-use and beautifully designed website and app.”
What to steal: This boilerplate is a great example of being both direct and illustrative. The first sentence tells the reader what the company does, and the second shows it. Masterful!
What to skip: This thing’s too long. Plus, for all those words, it doesn’t include any aspirational language about the company’s larger goals. Don’t forget to communicate your vision!
Groupon (Aspiration + Services + Benefits + CTA + Long)
“Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) is building the daily habit in local commerce, offering a vast mobile and online marketplace where people discover and save on amazing things to do, see, eat and buy. By enabling real-time commerce across local businesses, travel destinations, consumer products and live events, shoppers can find the best a city has to offer.
Groupon is redefining how small businesses attract and retain customers by providing them with customizable and scalable marketing tools and services to profitably grow their businesses.
To download Groupon's top-rated mobile apps, visit www.groupon.com/mobile. To search for great deals or subscribe to Groupon emails, visit www.groupon.com. To learn more about the company’s merchant solutions and how to work with Groupon, visit www.groupon.com/merchant.”
What to steal: The second paragraph offers a great example of aspirational language. “Redefining” is a nice replacement for the over-used “disrupting.”
What to skip: Your boilerplate shouldn’t be more than one paragraph. If you feel the need to break it up, it’s probably too long. Also, I’d say that’s too many CTAs.
Stitch Fix (Benefits + Aspiration + Services + History + Size + CTA)
“Stitch Fix is reinventing the shopping experience by delivering one-to-one personalization to our clients through the combination of data science and human judgment. Stitch Fix was founded in 2011 by CEO Katrina Lake. Since then, we’ve helped millions of men, women, and kids discover and buy what they love through personalized shipments of apparel, shoes, and accessories, hand-selected by Stitch Fix stylists and delivered to our clients’ homes. For more information about Stitch Fix, please visit http://www.stitchfix.com.”
What to steal: This is a masterclass in storytelling concision. For as many boilerplate elements as this example includes, it’s gloriously brief. Hire a copywriter, and you can have similar results!
What to skip: The sentence about the company’s founder is a little awkward and could easily be combined with the one that follows. A small complaint, though, to be clear.
Slack (Benefits + Services + Aspiration + Size)
“Slack is where work happens. Slack is a new layer of the business technology stack that brings together people, applications and data – a hub for collaboration where people can effectively work together, access critical applications and services, and find important information to do their best work. People around the world use Slack to connect their teams, unify their systems and drive their business forward.”
What to steal: This boilerplate example checks all of our boxes, and it clocks in at a tidy 65 words. Instead of explaining exactly how the product functions, it offers a high-level overview, which can be hard to do when you’re close to a topic.
What to skip: Nothing.
Amazon (Aspiration + Services & Products + CTA)
“Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.”
What to steal: This boilerplate is an excellent example of unifying divergent offerings. If you have a similar situation, steal this model.
What to skip: The products and services list gets a little long – I’m not crazy about it.
Salesforce (Brag + Product + Benefits + Aspiration + CTA)
“Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Founded in 1999, Salesforce enables companies of every size and industry to take advantage of powerful technologies – cloud, mobile, social, internet of things, artificial intelligence, voice and blockchain – to create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com.”
What to steal: This is some no-nonsense press release boilerplate. While there’s some “brag” language, it’s actually kind of understated, given how ubiquitous this company is.
What to skip: Honestly, there’s not much to quibble about here.
Orangetheory (Aspiration + Brag + Benefits + Size)
“Orangetheory® (https://fargo.orangetheoryfitness.com/) makes it simple to get more life from your workout. One of the world's fastest-growing franchise companies, Orangetheory has developed a unique approach to fitness that blends a unique trifecta of science, coaching, and technology that work together seamlessly to elevate participants' heart rates to help burn more calories. Backed by the science of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, Orangetheory workouts incorporate endurance, strength, and power to generate the 'Orange Effect' – whereby participants keep burning calories for up to 36 hours after a 60-minute workout. Orangetheory has 1,000 studios in 49 U.S. states and 18 countries and was ranked #667 in Inc. magazine's Fastest Growing Private Companies List.”
What to steal: This boilerplate, while very long, is otherwise awesome. It starts with aspiration and then backs it up with facts.
What to skip: Again, make sure to have someone proofread. This boilerplate uses “unique” twice in the second sentence.
Casper (Brag + Size + History + Product)
“Casper (casper.com) is a global sleep company, and one of the fastest growing consumer brands of all time, quickly striking a chord with consumers in a category that was stagnant for decades. The company has a full portfolio of obsessively engineered sleep products – including mattresses, pillows, bedding, and furniture – all developed in-house by the company's award-winning R&D team at Casper Labs in San Francisco. In addition to its global ecommerce business, Casper owns and operates more than 20 Sleep Shops across North America and its products are available at retailers including Target and Hudson's Bay.”
What to steal: The history part of this boilerplate example offers helpful context for where the company fits within the industry.
What to skip: The phrasing in the first sentence is off, which sets the stage for the rest of this otherwise strong boilerplate to ring an odd note. (Again, having a second set of eyes can help you avoid this kind of thing!)
Write Better Boilerplate: Aspiration + Benefits + Products / Services + Size
As you can see from the examples here, there’s no one way to write boilerplate. And even though this asset is typically less than 100 words, it’s not something you should rush through. The best blurbs carefully and subtly weave together lots of information while also capturing a company’s preferred voice.
If you’re still trying to write your company’s boilerplate, remember our formula: aspiration + benefits + products / services + size. And don’t forget to show it to someone else before slapping it on a press release.
If your press needs go far beyond boilerplate content, get in touch. We may be able to help.