The teases section on this website continues to be the most visited section outside of the cliche list! As I looked back through the articles, I realized a very important element has not been addressed. That element: How do you pick which stories to tease in the first place?

So let’s get into that, because the answer is not always obvious. Newbie journalists usually go for the packages in the rundown. If a newscast always has world news at 10 after or health at 20, a lot of newbie journalists tease something from those segments. Some will think to go for great video as well.

Picking from these combinations is a solid start. But truly great tease writers know that stories have to pass certain tests in order to work well. So let’s go beyond the obvious so you can really keep the audience interested.

What Stories Must Have To Tease:

An “aha” moment
Solid information
Emotion
Great visuals or sound

So here are the most important elements that stories must have in order to be worthy of your tease list. First and foremost, there needs to be an “aha” moment. Consultants spin this idea different ways. Some say its the surprise in a story. Others call it the “WIFM” or the promise. Call it what you will, it all essentially means the same thing. The viewer must “get something out” of the story. Maybe it is a significant new development in a case. Maybe it’s that key piece of consumer advice that will save them hundreds on a new car. Bottom line: It’s something tangible that will make the viewer stop and think. And that leads right to the next point, that it needs to be solid information. It needs to be something tangible, the viewer can easily re-explain after hearing it from you.

Ideally that information sparks some sort of emotion. Happiness, surprise, frustration or anger are great emotions to evoke with teases. People experiencing one of these emotions are generally compelled to feel the need to share the information that sparked that feeling. So, you win with the story and a well done tease. The other elements that really get people talking are visuals and sound.

Of course, when you have awesome images or a great sound bite, you have the best odds of holding audience. These have to be on the list. But ideally you also want the stories you tease to have solid information and/or an aha moment also. Here’s why. With social media exploding with great images and easy access to fascinating stories, journalists need teases to have more than good video. We can actually explain what the person is seeing. Too often I see a story with great action video put into a newscast, then the events leading up to the images and the consequences of the images are ignored in the story. Frankly, that makes viewers feel manipulated and used. Remember, you are the expert observers, not the casual ones. The stories you tease with great video, have to have some substance like, why the crazy skier braved the slope that said “avalanche danger,” then took the slope anyway and barely survived the snow pile around him. It can be a simple explanation, but there needs to be something. Especially if you are putting that story in to hold audience with teases.

So when picking stories to tease, look at the list above. ( FYI: This is more important than length of the story in your rundown ) Ideally the stories you pick will have several of these options. Going with just one, especially emotion or images and no substance, causes problems. Teases cannot be a let down. They are a hint, a build up for a good payoff. When you look for stories to tease, make sure they pass the test. Great info with compelling emotion or video or sound. If you can get share great info with emotion and great video then you have a killer tease option. Otherwise, when in doubt, substance over flash. Flash may get the viewer to hold that day. But if the story does not deliver, and you let your audience down, they will hold it against you. You have to respect your viewers’ trust when you tease. Make it worth their time and you will get loyalty in return.

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