Was that tease worth the wait?

Survival Kit, Tease Writing Comments Off on Was that tease worth the wait?
Feb 182016

The teases section on Survive is consistently the most read section. Frankly tease writing is not as natural for journalists. It involves different skill sets and we go in depth on those. But there is a basic teasing question that you must ask yourself every time, to make sure you’re living up to your main purpose: providing accurate information that benefits your viewers. This is especially true for stories you tease. They tend to be more emotional in nature or have a clear WIFM. They also tend to be stories tease writers oversell in an attempt to make sure the viewer stays.

So you must ask yourself, was that tease worth the wait? You must ask this when writing the tease, when watching the tease air and when watching the story you teased. You must do this in each scenario to learn when you overtease, how you do it and how often. Because, frankly, the majority of tease writers exaggerate. They say, “Well I have to get the viewer to watch.” But if you play with the viewer and set them up for a let down you are not winning loyalty long term. Exaggerating is a lazy tease tactic. It is wishful thinking and most of the time it is unnecessary.

If the answer is yes, the tease is worth the wait, then you are on track to become a great tease writer and a great asset to your newsroom. You want that pay off. It gives you more job longevity and credibility. So be bold and ask yourself the question. Each tease, each time, always.

How To Pick Stories To Tease

Survival Kit, Tease Writing Comments Off on How To Pick Stories To Tease
Dec 072014

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.

Sound Effects: Putting Sound In Teases

Survival Kit, Tease Writing Comments Off on Sound Effects: Putting Sound In Teases
Jun 182014

Once you start to get creative with teases, it is natural to be drawn to add elements like sound. Sound can be an effective way to grab a viewers attention. It also is often seriously misused. So here are some rules when using sound in teases to help you stay on track.

short and sweet
in context
character in story
nats pop

Remember, a sound bite from a person in a tease needs to be really short and sweet. (Unless it is so gripping you cannot turn away.) 5 seconds is ideal. Shorter, and you run the risk of the viewer not hearing what was said. Since the sound is likely your attention grabber in the tease, you need to make sure that the viewer will actually comprehend it.

The bite also needs to refer to something you will directly address in the story later. Often I see teases with a great bite, then I do not see the person in the story. Or the story ends up never answering the questions raised with the sell of the story in the tease. You have to keep things in context at all times.

Again the person in the soundbite really should appear somewhere in the story. If you are not using another bite from the person for some reason, at least show that person in the video and reference the person. Ideally though, the bite should be from the “character” in your story. Yes, this includes when you tease vosots. The bite needs to add to these stories, the person needs to represent the issue. He or she essentially is the character. We will delve more into that idea of storytelling in vosots in another article. But if you use sound bites in teases, you need to know this from the get go.

Also, nat sound really pops in teases. It can be the most effective way to draw a viewer in at all. It doesn’t get old. One of my favorite uses in a tease, was one involving tattoo parlors. You could hear the buzzing sound of the tattoo gun as a pop at the beginning and end of the tease. The use of the sound really got your attention and held it the whole way through.

So there you have it, ways to use sound in teases effectively. So go get creative.

 

Attention Grabber: How To Do A Great Live Tease

Survival Kit, Tease Writing Comments Off on Attention Grabber: How To Do A Great Live Tease
May 152014
More and more reporters are being asked to do live teases.  The producer isn’t trying to get out of work necessarily, this is a great marketing tool to show you have live crews everywhere in the DMA or at least in a key place. But these teases need to be more than a person just standing outside holding a mic with a station shirt on.
The best live teases are about 6 to 10 seconds and are interactive.  Think show and tell.  Reporters need to visually show the viewer why he/she is live somewhere from the get go. This includes during live teases.  Standing in front of the camera, holding the mic is not enough. Point to something in the background. Walk and talk.  Hold up something.  Get the viewer into the story right away.
Make sure and coordinate what’s being said live. There needs to be a dialogue between the producer and reporter. Often I hear the anchor pitch to the reporter, then the reporter says the same thing. Obviously it is not effective to repeat a line.  Producers be willing to take the time to brainstorm with the reporter.  And reporters, remember producers have more tease writing knowledge. Take advantage to make sure you get the most out of this extra live opportunity.

Umbrella leads, what they are and how to do them well.

Producing, Survival Kit, Tease Writing Comments Off on Umbrella leads, what they are and how to do them well.
Dec 042013

Many of you know that I spend a decent amount of my time watching newscasts from around the country.  I also spend a lot of time talking with producers.  One thing that has surprised me, is how few understand the concept of an “umbrella lead.” This is important because the “umbrella lead” sets the foundation for creating really incredible newscast opens as well as designing team coverage.

So what’s an umbrella lead?  Well, it is what you probably picture in your mind.  At the start of the newscast you mention one thing you will show the viewer, then you mention another. The anchor’s statements are an umbrella over the two images you are showing.  Here’s an example: “Flames shooting high in the air tonight at this house. We’re going to show you how a neighbor kept this from being much worse.  But first, these protestors say lawmakers are about to cost you a lot of money.”  My point in this example is the stories do not have to be related. Hopefully one will have great visuals.  The other may not.

So what types of stories qualify for umbrella leads?  Umbrella leads do not require that one of the stories is a breaker.  They just both need to have high impact.  A breaking story can be used, especially in a situation where you are still gathering information, but want to make it clear you are on the scene of a big story and viewers need to stay put.  However, thinking that is the only time to use an umbrella lead, really limits its potential effectiveness when trying to attract and hold an audience.

Some producers use umbrella leads when they just cannot decide which story is the best off the top.  Now you can have both.  Some use them to try and keep the lead-in audience through a key meter point.  For instance, if you are coming out of the show “Scandal,” great flame video would likely draw the audience in, more so than video of protestors.  So you use the flames to try and keep them engaged, but do the very important protest story in the actual lead position in your rundown.

Umbrella leads are really a type of tease.  But remember, both elements need to be in the a-block.  Ideally you want them to be the first two “chunks” in the a-block.  By “chunks” I am not talking about a simple VO or VO/SOT.  I’m talking about a reporter package and/or live shot.  It could also be an anchor package or even a produced up segment involving several anchor driven elements on one important story.  If you don’t place this high in the a-block you confuse and possibly upset the viewer.  You made this story out to be hugely important by using it in the umbrella lead.  So you need to consider that fact when placing it in your rundown.

O.K., so how do umbrella leads help you create team coverage and incredible newscast opens?  Cold opens are based on the concept of giving a taste of your best video and/or sound to draw the viewer in.  Doing umbrella leads is a more simplistic way to “get practice” before you really launch into fancy cold opens or “headers.”  You also use a more sophisticated type of umbrella lead to showcase multiple elements you have when designing team coverage.  So it is a good idea to do some umbrella leads to get those tease skills warmed up.  Best of all, umbrella leads can really help hold an audience through your a-block.  That alone can be a ratings win.  So give them a try.

 

Why reporters need to be great tease writers too.

Reporting, Survival Kit, Tease Writing Comments Off on Why reporters need to be great tease writers too.
Jan 282013

When talking about tease challenges recently on FB, a newsie mentioned it is hard to tease a story “not knowing what the reporter is ACTUALLY working on.”  This is a common scenario in most newsrooms.  I said the producer should ask for a tease line when the reporter calls in with elements.  Now let’s talk about why the reporter should want to call in a tease line, or better yet, offer to write a tease.  Reporters need to be great tease writers too, because it not only helps them curry favor with management, it also helps them write better stories.

A big key to great story telling and great tease writing is truly understanding what impact the story will have on the audience.  This is the WIFM and sell combined.  So by challenging yourself to become a great tease writer, you are kicking your story telling skills up a notch.

Great tease writers are also experts at using sound and video to capture the viewer’s attention, key elements in great storytelling.  Think about it, most teases that really knock your socks off, leave an image or sound in your mind.  Most people are visual or auditory learners.  It is important to play on that fact.

Tight, powerful writing is also key to great tease writing and great storytelling.  You can’t boil it down if you don’t understand the story.  Powerful writing makes for many memorable moments as well.

So reporters, challenge yourself.  Offer to call in a tease line with your elements each day.  Look for the sound and video that really sells your story and offer it up. You will not only become the producer’s favorite, your own stories will improve.

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