Adding Immediacy to Topical Promos & Teases

By Graeme Newell 

Building a sense of urgency is one of the most compelling components of a news promo. On a big story, new facts often become available throughout the shift. Our natural inclination is to solely promote the most prominent facts of the story. Typically, this will be an account of past events, leaving out current developments. We promote the facts of the robbery, not the manhunt that’s going on right now.

If you want viewers to recognize the immediacy and urgency of your coverage, it is important to write teases that focus on developing facts, not a history of the story. This clearly showcases the immediacy of your coverage.

Show viewers that your coverage is an on-going effort. Don’t forget to include events happening NOW. While it may not be the primary focus of your tease, this kind of information lends a sense of urgency and demonstrates the tenacity of your team. Go through your copy and see if you can change references to past coverage.

For example:
“We’ll tell you how she was hurt in the car accident.”
Instead:
“Tonight, a live update on her condition at this hour.”
Avoid:
“The clues that led to the arrest of the suspect.”
Instead:
“Where the suspect is right now and the critical clues police are using to build a case.”

Do the same with stand ups. Cut stand ups that show your coverage as developing minute to minute. Take full advantage of breaking news opportunities. When stories pop up in the hours prior to a cast, use images and words showing your developing coverage plans. Have reporters do quick stand ups. Do live (but carefully scripted) promos from the news room. Show the team going out the door, on their way to the breaking story. “We’re headed out the door right now, on our way to a tanker explosion on the west side. We’ll have live pictures of the huge blaze coming up at five.” This strategy builds excitement and clearly reinforces your news image.

For late-breaking news stories, promise facts that are SURE to be in the story. Breaking news coverage is one of the most compelling parts of a newscast. The problem is that when reporters head out the door on a breaking news story, they typically have no idea what they’ll find at the location. There is no video. There is no sound. Writing a promo promising specifics is almost impossible in this situation. The crew doesn’t know what they’ll find because they have not arrived at the scene.

In situations like this, promise coverage you’re SURE to have. Typically, promos and teases simply reiterate the facts of the story instead of focusing on the coverage of those facts.

Weak:
“We have breaking news about a huge fire in Smithburg.”
Stronger:
“A huge fire in Smithburg. We’ll show you which buildings are on fire and what firefighters are doing to put out the blaze.”

If your team gets to the fire, these are facts they are SURE to get. While these general promises aren’t as strong as more exclusive promises of coverage, they are better than simply telling the audience you have breaking news.

Weak:
Late-breaking news. A water main break downtown.”
Stronger: “Find out how much water is in the streets and how workers are trying to cap the leak.”
These are details that ANY report is bound to gather.

Using this technique, you can avoid vague promos that promise nothing. You can promise breaking facts with a reasonable assurance the answers will be in the report.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602communications.com.

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