The big squeeze

Try compression of details for PR leads

Embeddable tooth implants. Batman’s tax bill. Zombie slayers.

Like squeezing together a lump of coal to make a diamond, compression of details condenses fascinating facts into a passage that’s more than the sum of its parts.

Main squeeze: Make it juicy with compression of details.

Main squeeze Make it juicy with compression of details. Image from Shuttershock

Take a tip from these Silver Anvil Award winners, and try compression of details.

Pit that nickel against Nickelodeon

Fleishman-Hillard’s John Armato used that approach for this lead for a press release for H&R Block by Fleishman-Hillard/Kansas City:

Most 8- to 11-year-olds would rather go to school year-round than pay a nickel of “allowance tax.” But pit that nickel against Nickelodeon, and they’d gladly fork it over to protect their tube time. They also imagine Batman would pay more income tax than either Superman or Spiderman.

For this approach, you choose more than one (and, to be fair, almost always three) examples to make your broader point.

The internet in my tooth …

Marie Hatter uses compression of details for the Cisco blog post “The Internet of Everything Hearts Your Health”:

An embeddable tooth implant sends patient information to a dentist in real time.

A smart watch responds to touch to help ease the loneliness of long-distance relationships.

A bracelet records daily physical activity and caloric intake and provides recommendations to achieve health goals.

These capabilities may have seemed like a dream only a decade ago but are now a reality, thanks to the Internet of Everything.

Internet of Everything? That’s huge! The internet in my tooth? Now we’re talkin’.

Make your audience the lead.

Lisa Gurry brings the world of gaming down to size with a compression of details in the promotion “Your Invitation Has Arrived: Xbox One Ready for Millions of Fans on Nov. 22”:

Get ready racing aficionados, zombie slayers, sports fans, warriors and entertainment lovers. The Xbox team is planning one of the biggest entertainment premieres of the year to celebrate the launch of Xbox One with Xbox fans around the world, when it launches next Friday, Nov. 22.

Xbox One? Too big. Zombie slayers? I’m in.

… Who lived in a shoe.

Mark Zelermyer brought this lead, for Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, home with compression of details:

A shoe factory turned into apartments for low-income families. Homes with onsite medical care for brain-injury survivors. Flats for young adults leaving foster care.

That’s compression of details.

When does this approach not work? When the details aren’t really details.

In “Extra! Extra! New Cisco Brand Launches Today — Get the Details Here,” writers miss the mark by compressing generics:

Turn on the TV. Open a newspaper. Jump on the Internet. Today Cisco is launching its new brand — and it’s happening around the world. Look for us in print ads, commercials and online banner. But don’t just look. Get involved.

TV? Newspaper? Internet? TOO BIG!

To get our attention, bring it down to size.

Next steps

Learn how to get concrete details into your lead.

Please share your favorite example of compression of details in a lead — whether you wrote it or received it — in the comments section.

“If the copy doesn’t excite me within 20 words, I won’t read the rest of it.”
— Editor to Jack E. Appleman, CBC, president of SG Communications, LLC

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