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Kill The Boilerplate?

They are those weird artifacts that nestle between the final lines of a press release and oblivion. Does anyone actually read them? Are they remotely useful? And they cost money down to the very last word.

Thoughts? Shouldn’t we just wipe them from the pages of history? Maybe replace them with a little fact relevant to the content. Something like:

More On Dell

Dell is the #1 provider of notebooks. Learn more at Dell.com.

Or, just eliminate them all together? Thoughts?

10 Responses

  1. By Gerry on September 11th, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Thought they were kinda useful from a search engine/keyword findability viewpoint, certainly in online press release distribution situ’s Andy. Gerry

  2. By Todd Defren on September 11th, 2008 at 9:00 am

    My first thought was, “Don’t you mean notebook computers?” – which leads to the crux of the problem: everyone with a stake wants to add a word/phrase. Too many cooks, spoil the boilerplate.

    Also, it’s easy for a goliath like Dell to consider a 1-sentence bp (or none at all), but a well-written bp is important to an unknown start-up: it’s where they can clarify and brag.

    Problem is that so few bp’s are well written!

    Anyway, I do feel your pain.

  3. By Nancy on September 11th, 2008 at 9:07 am

    As much as I hate taking up space with them, I am always surprised when I see the final write up with an inaccurate description of the company. I worked for a very well-known Fortune 500 company famous for plumbing. But they also had three other divisions. For corporate reporting, it’s important that all the businesses were mentioned. Without that boilerplate, it wouldn’t have happened.

  4. By Jeff on September 11th, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Does anyone read more than the first two paragraphs of a press release?

  5. By Adam Zand on September 11th, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Keep the boilerplate and kill the press release

  6. By Jason Kintzler on September 11th, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I have to agree with the comments here, at least when you’re talking about traditional press releases. Many journalists actually cut and paste the boilerplate as they want to give the readers some background – especially when you’re not talking about a ‘known’ brand.

  7. By Kristina on September 11th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I say the boilerplate is a keeper. It provides a clear snapshot of a company (when written well). Also, like someone mentioned above, a lot of journalists actually cut and paste the boilerplate word-for-word when background info is needed in a story.

  8. By David Mullen on September 11th, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I’ve been talking about this with some fellow PR folks the past month or so. I say kill the damn thing and include a link, for many reasons.

    1. I highly doubt that most people read them. If your news release has kept a journalist or blogger’s attention all the way to the bottom, then they’re probably willing to click on a link to a robust online corporate newsroom for more info.

    2. They were much more necessary pre-Web days. It saved journalists time by answering the “who” in more detail. Today, it’s not necessary because of the wealth of info available on the web in no time flat.

    3. As you noted, every word costs money if you’re distributing via a wire service. The more releases you distribute, the more money it costs. And, as we know, many companies are looking to cut costs, especially given the current marketplace.

    I don’t know about others, but I’ve generated a ton of media stories for clients (if I may say so myself) and I’ve NEVER had a journalist copy and paste anything from the boilerplate. If if they wanted to do that, though, they could get it from the online newsroom by clicking one link. Not too cumbersome.

    The only time I still see it as relevant would be in printed versions that you’re handing to media contacts at a trade show, especially if they are reporting daily from the trade show. You never know what type of remote setup they have and it could be easier to have corporate info in hand instead of tracking down a better Wi-Fi signal.

    Other than that, I say we cut ‘em loose.

  9. By PRJack on September 11th, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    [challenge must be case sensitive!]

    A scaled down version of my previous comment…

    Most journos I’ve spoken to do like the BP. It gives them a quick summary of the company so that they don’t have to go searching for it.

    but remember…
    - under some disclosure rules for public companies the Boiler MUST be included, like it or not.
    - keep the boiler clear, concise, relevant and to the point
    - keep the BP free of marketing-speak
    - if not using a BP – or only including a very stripped down one – make sure there is a link to the info online. And make sure that info is easily accessible with out searching, going through flash animation, navigating through several pages, etc. Just let the journos get what they want!

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