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.

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!

 

We’ve all seen them: A tease that grabs you and doesn’t let you go.  You swear at the TV because you will just have to be late to work or get to bed a few minutes late.  You have to know.  Think about that.  You have to know.  Write that phrase on a sticky note to place on your computer.  It is rule number one to excellent tease writing:  “You have to know.”

Before we dish tips, let’s quantify something.  Being a good writer and being a good tease writer do not always go hand in hand.  Writing good teases is an art form.  It is something you need to push to improve upon every day. This goes for producers, reporters, promotion writers, even news managers.  Because teases are so crucial, we will delve into the topic on and off for several articles.  Just like we mentioned in “Rule the Word” attending seminars on Saturdays at the station will not give you all you need.

So let’s start with the phrase “You have to know.”  When you start your shift and stare at a blank rundown keep that phrase in mind.  It is a great way to select stories for key meter points to tease.  As you and news management select where these stories go, mine the content for fascinating elements.  Great video, an interesting fact, and strong viewer benefit are good examples.  We’re talking about the stuff you want to tweet about or top line to someone else.  Those are the elements in stories you need to tease in your newscast.  Take the best elements from these stories and put them in a script at the top or bottom of your rundown.  Then, when a phrase about one of those compelling elements pops in your head, put it into that catchall script.

Now let’s expand on some things great tease writers do each day.

  • Write tease elements all shift long
  • Hide teases
  • Add flash without exaggerating

We just told you about the important catch all script at the top or bottom of your rundown where you can stash potential tease elements.  Again, write as many of these elements as you can in this script as ideas come to mind throughout your day.  Don’t forget the traditional things you are taught about teases.  Look for emotional connections, a viewer benefit, and remember your station’s news philosophy as you write.  Look for unique elements.  As you do this, throw in notes from conversations you are having with reporters about their stories.  Write down what sticks in your head about these elements in your catchall script.  Again, these are the need to know elements you will share with viewers.

A quick note to reporters, you should also mine your stories for great tease elements as you go through your day.  Increasingly reporters are becoming responsible for tease elements being fed into the station for promotions and teases within a newscast.  Make note of great sound and pictures so you can hand them over to a producer or promotions writer quickly.  After all, you want your story played up because it helps you too.  If a cool line about your story comes to mind, share it with the producer or EP.

The other reason producers want to “write” teases all shift long is that the elements you throw in that catchall script can help you shape all of your writing.  Some of the cool video, partnered with compelling phrases might not make it as a tease, but it might become the first line of a vo or vo/sot you write.  Everything a producer writes is designed to draw in audience.  Maybe a phrase you wrote in your catchall will become a transition line between stories on a two shot.

Which leads to our next point:  Hide teases.  Some consultants call this “stealth teasing.”  We are going to take it a little further.  Think of hiding teases in two ways.  “Hiding” teases means:  1) Throwing in tease lines about something coming up in non-traditional places.  2) Using the same kind of tease writing in leads for stories.

The first way producers hide teases is placing a line about something coming up in a place a viewer would not expect.  Take the middle of the a-block for example.  You can write a vo about your 30 lead and give viewers some interesting information, then tease a specific viewer benefit for later.  Another interesting place is within anchor chat.  Have the anchors mention something coming up seemingly “off the cuff” after a similar type story.  A favorite technique of mine is to go directly from a story into a compelling piece of natural sound and video to kick off a tease that is pre-produced with a lot of sound and cool graphics.  Consider it a mini package or a second cold open type deal with several elements.  Make suer you mix up where this appears in your rundown. (i.e. – the b-block one day, the 38 block some other time depending on where your best video lies.)

Now let’s expand on using tease writing in leads for stories.  If a story within, say, the middle of your b-block has great video, segment it out and include a tease type element at the beginning.  This will hook the audience and provide all important instant gratification.  Here’s an illustration:  Let’s say you have a story about a fire where someone was rescued and you have incredible sound from the person saved.  Tease it in the beginning of the story by playing some of the sound.  In other words, reverse the order of the story.  Do the payoff sound first, then showcase the cool elements leading up to the great sound.  It would look something like this:

See this man? (OTS graphic of the man, or take it fullscreen) He could have died in a fire today. (Bite) “I thought I was a goner then I felt someone pulling me by the arm.” Then do your vo. “Here’s the house where it happened…”etc. Finish with a bite from the survivor expanding on the first sound, something like: “I just couldn’t believe that someone braved the smoke to save me.” This makes your newscast more interesting throughout and makes your teases more natural to the viewer when they do appear at the end of a block.  They’ve seen that you will make it worth their while to stick around.  You showed them you deliver with a tease type element, in a segmented part of the show, just moments before.

The example above also gives you an idea of how to add flash to teases without exaggerating.  We will dedicate another article to techniques for avoiding exaggerating when writing teases later.  For now, let’s focus on proper ways to add flash.  One way that is fun for promotions writers and producers who do cold opens is to base graphics and writing style on the lead-in to your newscast. For example, if a court show comes before you and there’s a strong legal type story, start the cold open with sound of a gavel.  Then you can use the same gavel sound to break up each element in the tease.  This is also effective for topicals, just don’t make it a crutch every single time “CSI” or “Law and Order” airs.

Graphics can be compelling if you lack video, but the story has viewer benefit.  If you do this, you have to spell that benefit out on screen.  Case in point, the phrase “saves you money” will get many people to watch in these hard economic times.  Just make sure you can deliver the money saving advice.  Finally, if you can, pre-produce a tease or two in your rundown.  But make sure you vary where you place it and how long it runs.  Edit in cool graphics and quick sound to play up appeal to the eye and ear.  It doesn’t have to be a three element deal like I described earlier.  It just needs to have different elements to engage the senses.  This goes back to one of our recurring themes, engage more than 1 of the senses and you have viewers hooked.  They will just “have to know” what the story is about!

 

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