It’s Time to Cut Boilerplates from News Releases

A few weeks ago, some colleagues and I were talking about boilerplates and whether or not they’re still necessary. You know, those “About Company X” that come at the end of every news release. I didn’t think to blog about it at the time, but then Andy Lark asked the same question on his blog yesterday and, in the comments, got some resistance to losing the boilerplate.

My initial thought is to ditch them, at least as the norm they’ve become. I think in today’s PR world, there is little use for them. Here’s why…

  • If your news release has kept a journalist’s 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.
  • 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 most companies’ Web sites.
  • Every word in a news release 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.

The only times I still see them as relevant off hand would be:

  • Hard copy news releases 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.
  • Public companies who are required to disclose certain information in all public communications.

Other than that, I say we cut ‘em loose. What do you think?

UPDATE: To clarify, I’m not saying the boilerplate doesn’t have a purpose. I’m saying it has a place. And that, most of the time, that place isn’t at the end of a news release.

*Image by Hans Kylberg.

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7 responses to “It’s Time to Cut Boilerplates from News Releases

  1. I agree in general, but still feel like adding a couple of caveats:
    – not all websites or even online press rooms are actually designed for ease of access to info. Sad but true.
    – not all wire services charge by the word. In Canada we have a wire dissemination service through Marketwire that has no costs linked to word count if you are sending a release to a targeted list you have built (using their media directory service) for a cost of … wait for it … ~$50 (up to ~100 contacts, above that there is a slight charge). And the release will be sent either by email or eFax (depending on the journo’s pref).

  2. I completely agree David. It’s a waste of space & money in many cases.

  3. Hi David,

    Checked out your post and Larkin’s as well. I think it depends on the company. If a company is still defining itself, I think the boilerplate is key. You really should do as much as you can to make sure the correct message is out there.

    Also, I know who would click the link to check out the online newsroom, but I know just as many who would rather have some description right there for them to read.

  4. I think this is an amazing idea – and am planning on joining the revolution.

    My only thought of where they may serve a purpose it on a non-profit press release. Some non-profits do not have the budget for an easily maneuvered Web site – or sometimes they don’t have one at all.

    Agree/disagree?

  5. llevy – non-profits could be another exception, depending on their web sites or lack thereof, and/or their ability to update their web sites in a timely manner.

  6. It’s important for journalists/reporters/average joe’s who view press releases to understand exactly who the issuing company is. Consider the many technical (or poorly written) releases that would be very difficult to understand who’s issuing it. Especially with so many subsidiary or multi-level organizations. When in doubt, include it! BUT, it’s doesn’t need to be 300 words long…

  7. David,

    I agree with your assessment, and in fact have even dropped the boilerplate on a couple of releases. Instead, I included a link to the client’s web site. In both cases, I got calls from some of the media asking me the exact information that would be in a plate and that was on the link!

    So, I decided to include an abbreviated plate along with the link and so far that has seemed to work.

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