How to Write a One-Sentence ID

By Graeme Newell 

In last week’s marketing tip I showed you how to write a great news ID using two short incomplete sentences. But what’s the plan when you have even less time to describe your coverage? Many shops require a time and channel number at the end of an ID. This leaves just a few short seconds to convey the reason to watch–one sentence at best.

An ideal ID will contain two components–a build and a promise . If you don’t have time for both parts, then it is necessary to imply one of the two components while plainly spelling out the other. Which part is implied depends on the type of story promoted.

If the story is a big one with lots of obvious coverage angles, then create an ID that is all build with no specific promise of coverage. The goal of this ID is to toss a grenade into the viewer’s living room and let the big facts of the story do all the talking. For example:

“A gas tanker explodes on a downtown freeway.”

Although you didn’t spell out the specific coverage your team will be providing, this is such a big event that interesting story angles are assured. There is little doubt this story will be an exciting one.

“Coach Smith sacked in a huge scandal.”

It is implied that your team will have all the juicy details on why he was fired. There is no need to spell it out in the ID.

The problem is that most news IDs promote smaller stories with less interesting details. In situations like this, viewers may have real doubt that the story will be interesting. You must prove it with a solid promise that proves you don’t have hackneyed coverage of the event. These IDs will be all promise but should weave the build right into the sentence as well. For example:

“How a small dog caused a big pile up.”

We accomplished the build with three words: “big pile up.” Now the rest of the sentence is dedicated to a solid promise of coverage.

“What you’ll pay if taxes increase.”

This sentence is the same situation. “Tax increase” accomplishes the build in two words. “What you’ll pay” is the promise. All this was done in a single sentence.

News IDs are so short that sentence fragments are usually a must . In this case, all we’ve done is to take the build and promise sentence fragments and combine them into one complete sentence.

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