When we raised the issue that reporters should write anchor intros into their pieces, some producers contacted us to say they disagreed. Their reasoning: writing anchor intro’s is a producer’s chance to shine. I agree for the lead story. I even stated that particular kind of intro is an exception. Other anchor intro’s, in say the middle and end of news blocks, can reap more benefits from allowing reporters to truly story tell from start to finish. You should also give your anchor’s some chances to write these intro’s and some tags. This is crucial so that they will call reporters and hash out information. Always remember, a strong producer creates the tone of the newscast in partnership with your anchors and reporters.
So where do producers get the chance to show off their creativity and make their mark in a newscast? We all need a place to shine to avoid burnout. There should be two focuses: teases and special segments designed to differentiate your coverage from your competitors. There are several reasons for this. The most crucial: When you are up for promotions or new jobs, these are the places ND’s look first to see how talented producers are. If you are a great tease writer and you really showcase stories in interesting, engaging, ways with your anchors and audience, then you have vision. You have moxie. You are a slam dunk hire. Think about it. Most newscasts look the same. They are dull. 5pm newscasts are produced the same cookie cutter way nearly everywhere. A segment on Conan O’Brien painfully reminded us of how formulaic newscasts and news writing can become showing clip upon clip written the same way. However, if your show looks a little different and your teases make me have to stay tuned, you are a rock star producer!
We have a series of articles on ways to tease well. Here’s the most important take away information for teases. Vary them up, so they are not obviously teases. Find interesting ways to start the teases off so you’ve already sucked the viewer in before showing this is a tease. Consultants spend a lot of time and money looking for ways to change up teases. Read about it. Pick your consultant’s brain on the latest research when the person is at the station. Be creative!
Now let’s talk about designing interesting segments in your newscast. If you read that sentence and just saw big question marks in your head, read these two articles (Produce it up and Get inside your anchor’s heads) as these are starting points. What you want to do, is take your knowledge of the audience’s interests and come up with compelling stories you segment out in your newscast. They should involve interesting facts, use natural sound and provide a place for the anchor’s personalities to come out a bit so they are relatable to the viewer. In other words, you want to create memorable moments (a consultant term often told to story tellers about the sections in their packages that make viewers say “Wow!”). This is your way to story tell. I would begin creating these sections in areas of your newscast where your anchor’s energy tends to go down and/or where your ratings dip. Those are great opportunities to raise your numbers. Managers will notice, because they are beating their heads looking for ways to raise energy levels and ratings in those parts of the newscast as well. Expect to do some experimenting. Frankly, managers are experimenting in those sections of the newscast as well. Look for strong video or emotion to play out in interesting ways. (See Step out of the box, for help on that.)
If you focus on creating one or two interesting elements a day in your newscast and up the ante on your tease writing, you will have your hands full. You will make a name for yourself as a solid producer. Best of all, you will have something to drive home feeling great about that didn’t step on other team members creativity or inhibit them from doing their jobs well. As a producer you are the leader of your team. You need to help others grow as writers and story tellers. You need to help your anchors make the most of every newscast, every day. Do this by figuring out where you can shine, while allowing others the chance to do the same.