Whenever I publish an article on teases, journalists talk it up on Facebook and Twitter. Teases, as I have said before, are not natural to us newsies. So we have plenty to discuss because teases are a completely different writing style. I asked on FB and Twitter: What are the biggest challenges you face when writing teases? Here’s the list and some fixes.
Tease writing challenges
- Making the time to write them
- Not giving away too much of the story
- Picking what to tease
- What order to put teases in
The number one secret of killer tease writers is this: Make time to really work on your teases. These are not the elements you save for last and just throw something in to get them done. Teases make or break your newscast. You are judged on them harshly and often. They have to be a priority. They need a special amount of time set aside. Give yourself a chance to write and read over the teases to challenge yourself: Are these really the best I can do?
That said many of you mentioned writing the teases right after you write the story you are teasing. That can be an effective technique, as long as you go back and look at them again. Why? Often you end up giving away too much of the story. Sometimes you need a little separation from writing the story, to see what your short term memory actually retains. What is it about that story that made you want to tease it in the first place?
Picking what to tease is very challenging, especially when you look at your rundown and think, the stories all sound run of the mill, with no good sound, average video and the same old facts. This is key. There should be a reason every story is in your newscast. It may be that a little tidbit is interesting, the fact the fire happened in a key demo of the market you are tapping into, or because you need video on a day when you have few resources and too many copy stories. Realistically not all of the reasons are super compelling, but they are reasons that have WIFM (“What’s In It For Me”). So draw on the reason why the story is in the newscast and try to build on that for a tease. Viewers do not expect every story to be a gut wrenching, heart stopping, amazing moment. Remember at their core, viewers want tangible relatable information. Information is teasable. Just don’t oversell. (see “Reel ‘Em In Without Exaggerating”).
Finally, order. How many producers have wasted way too much time on this? For the most part, the way to “stack” teases is this deep, deeper, next. You can play around with the deep, deeper part, but not the next (unless you are in the second to last block of course). If viewers see a pattern (and they can and will recognize it) of you teasing next right off, they will not stick around for the whole newscast.
So now you can take those teasing challenges head on! Go knock ’em dead.