How’s your “boilerplate” working out for you?

1st in a series of 8 Basic Tools for Effective Communication . . . Topic: The Boiler Plate

Remember to PATTB!*

*Pay Attention to the Basics

I enjoyed reading the posts about Jamie Volmer on the SCN homepage.  While I agree with Volmer’s conclusion (epiphany?) that we can’t run schools like a business, I would suggest there are some things school communicators can learn from business.

Summer’s a great time to refresh and renew.  So let me suggest how you can reinvigorate your communications by adopting eight basic tools widely used in business for effective communications.  Today we’ll tackle boilerplate information.

When I first visit a school, I like to ask those I meet to describe it.  I’m always amazed at the variety of answers.  And it quickly lets me know how effective the communication director is at that school.  The best schools know how to describe themselves in one consistent voice.

How would your colleagues describe your school?

Go ask three individuals right now.  I’ll wait.

Back already?  How was it?  Did you hear an accurate, holistic description from all three?  Or did the answers you heard remind you of the parable of the blind men and the elephant?

As the school’s chief communication officer, it’s your responsibility to make it easy for your colleagues to promote your school’s strengths and unique qualities.  That’s why the first basic tool you need to create or simply reinvigorate is what business communicators call a boilerplate.

A boilerplate is a succinct description of your school or district.  It’s only a few sentences long making it even the more difficult to write!  Once written, the boilerplate is used at the end of every single press release.  Think of it as being the words you would like everyone to use when asked to describe your school.  Just for fun, visit the online press room at and read the paragraph at the end of every single press release.  I’m particularly impressed by their “confidence” (some might say arrogance!?!).  In their boilerplate paragraph Apple claims to be the “best.”  To “lead” the digital revolution.  To have “reinvented” the mobile phone market.  And I’m amazed to learn that Apple is “defining the future.”  Is your school’s boilerplate as compelling?