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.

How to tease on Twitter: A key secret revealed!

Social Awareness Comments Off on How to tease on Twitter: A key secret revealed!
Oct 162013

A Philly anchor’s recent twitter tease about a real life shootout and the hit show “Breaking Bad” has set off a lot of discussion.  In this case, I am going to look more closely at creative ways to tease on Twitter, without potentially crossing the line. Fact is, teasing is not most journalists strong suit as it is.  We have a series of articles dedicated to help write teases for newscasts.  Now let’s talk Twitter.  The 140 character limit makes it even harder to get the message across clearly.  But I am about to reveal a secret that shows, Twitter teases are actually less difficult to pull off.

Teasing Guidelines for Twitter:

Coming up – BIG no no

Human Link

Remember Images

Hashtags

The number one mistake I see in Twitter teases is using the term “Coming up at.. (show listing)…” as a first line.  Never start a tease this way, period.  Even on Twitter.  It is a throwaway cliche line that really turns off the audience.  You need to get to the sell, which frankly is the reason you want to tease the story.  That is your first line, you can say when to watch after that.

The sell of the tease, is the human link, or what some consultants and managers call the WIFM or viewer benefit.  So, if there’s a character in the story, introduce that. If you found ways to save viewers a ton of money, say that.  If you have kick butt video say that.  The best part about Twitter, is there’s an intimacy to it.  You frankly do not have to be as ‘colorful’ a writer as you do in newscasts. (Here’s the big secret reveal!! ) People on Twitter, are looking for interesting information.  The expectation to be entertained is not as much of a given.  They are looking for facts, and people’s reactions to those facts.  The human link needs to be simple and direct on Twitter.  A lot of the work is already done for you.  People are seeking out your information, instead of you desperately trying to draw them in and keep them.  Think long and hard about that one.  It really fundamentally changes the way you need to tease, and should eliminate some of the pressure to ‘relate’ the story to a trend (or dare I say, a TV show).

Also, many visual TV journalists forget to use the simplest, yet most effective technique: an image.  I am guessing I am far from alone, when I say the number one way to draw me in on Twitter is to include a picture or a link to something.  My natural instinct is to click to learn more.  Don’t forget the very famous line “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  I encourage using images to build your Twitter fan base anyway.  When you tease, pictures are exceptionally effective because few people do it.  Show a scene setter.  Show the person you are centering the story around in an action shot.  Heck, showing an image of a document has suckered me in before.  A shot of a document would not work for a TV news tease.  But it can work for a Twitter tease.  Again, that’s because people on Twitter are actively seeking out information.  You do not have to sell as hard.  They want to learn more, see more and experience more.  Provide links to images, and you will sell your stories and/or newscasts.

Finally, remember that the best way to link up with Twitter followers is through hashtags.  Use them in teases to draw more people in.  Look for “local” hash tags and use them when you can.  I really suggest using established hashtags more so than creating a unique one for your tease/tweet.  There are people who mine these hashtags each day looking for information on particular topics.  Again, they are waiting for you to deliver the information, a captive audience!  Use that.  If there are no good local hashtags for your market, talk with your managers and possibly promotions about creating some that your station can consistently use to draw in audience.  These hashtags are very effective marketing.  Frankly, they’re often more effective than any clever tease you attempt to write.  Consistency is key with the hashtags.  They are a simple trick with potentially huge gains.

So now you know some guidelines for teasing on Twitter.  The secret is out!  Twitter followers want to hear what you are going to showcase.  They want information, pictures and links.  They are actively seeking them.  Link an image, or a human element and your tease will work.  No need to rack your brain to really “suck them in.”  Twitter followers are a captive, willing and, frankly, enthusiastic audience grateful for the chance to read what you have to say. So be straightforward and you will win big fans!

 

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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