How to Write a Great News ID

By Graeme Newell 

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In the teasing world, three to five second IDs are always the most challenging promos to write. How can you convey the best stuff from your story in such a short amount of time? When you break down the elements of a great ID, it has two main parts.

The first sentence is the build. This first part must create intrigue and present just enough information for viewers to get excited about your story. It should grab attention and leave viewers with the idea that big stuff is going on. If viewers miss the news, they’ll miss something interesting or important. Think of it as a big exclamation point, meant to make viewers look up and pay attention.

The build should be done in as few words as possible. Most producers make the mistake of trying to tell the story in the tease. The purpose of a tease is to sell, not to tell. Let the news report tell the story. A tease is meant to excite, not explain. Try to always use a sentence fragment in the build. This first sentence should be short and choppy, composed mainly of adjective/noun combos. You probably won’t have time to use verbs.
“Four dead in a huge fire.”
“Fuming airport travelers.”
“Critical win!”
Remember that any extra words in this part of the tease will leave you short on time for the important second part – the promise.

The promise should clearly convey your coverage of the news story. The goal is to showcase your team’s enterprising reporting, not to further explain the details of the event. Many times, these sentences will start with “who, what, where, when, why or how.” Just as before, use sentence fragments on the promise. Now, combine the build with the promise.
“A huge crash. How a dog caused the accident.”
“Crushing defeat. The coach’s new defense strategy.”
“The mayor arrested. How police found the embezzled money.”

Most IDs lack this critical promise of coverage. News producing is all about conveying the facts of the story and most writers try to make their IDs little mini news reports. Remember that the best part of a tease is always the last line. Make it a practice to literally count the number of words in this first line. If you have more than three or four, cut it down.

Next week – how to combine the build and the promise into a single sentence that’s even shorter.

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@602commu