How to write a smokin' boilerplate

Who was it who first said, "You know what, guys? Press release boilerplates should be long, unwieldy, and vague, so that no one has any idea what our company does?"

Oh right. No one. Because it's stupid. Yet a ton of organizations follow that exact maxim as if it were law. The result: anonymity.

Yes, yes, I know we're not all Google or Microsoft, whose elevator pitch barely matters anymore because they're household names. But if you intend to achieve even 1/10 of their success, a critical first step is making sure people always understand what you do -- in 30 seconds or less.

So, when you're writing a boilerplate for yourself or for your organization, here's a basic checklist to follow:

1. Give the facts. Tell them who you are, where you're located, and what you do. Include your mantra.

2. Keep it clean. No jargon, please. Just clear, factual statements that your grandmom would understand. (And for God's sake, please watch your grammar and spelling.)

3. Back up the big statements. Only say you're the #1 widget manufacturer in the world if you really are. If you're not, saying 'world-class widget manufacturer' smacks of delusion.

4. Short is sweet. The shorter and punchier your boilerplate statements, the more likely it is that the info will make it into articles and other press.

5. Include your web properties. Send people to where they'll find the most info about you -- usually your web site, but let's not rule out Ning communities, Facebook pages, etc.

6. One boilerplate does not fit all. Distinguish between products, divisions, or service lines. Example: Google vs. iGoogle.

Essentially, your boilerplate is a litmus test. If you can't make it short AND pack it with meaning, that's further proof you don't have a clear purpose/mission for your organization.

But if you can, then pat yourself on the back, because you do what you do well AND can articulate it. And that means you've likely created something of value that will carry you forward. Now, boil away!

Other good boilerplate tips here:
How to Write a Press Release Boilerplate
PR Tip -- Back to Basics with Boilerplates