Tease Fewer Topics, More Clearly

By Graeme Newell 

When doing my teasing workshops around the country, I always start the class by showing the group about two minutes of standard teases from various news operations. Immediately after they watch the teases, I ask them to write down the stories they can remember. I find that ten seconds after watching these promos, most people in the audience can recall only a few topics. Despite the fact that these spots were played on a wide screen TV, in a darkened room, with absolutely no distractions, the topics pass by the viewer like a speeding train. Most of those carefully written teases never attach themselves to a single brain cell in the audience.

Most teases are written with a tone of desperation within them. The thinking is that if you show the audience enough topics, surely they will like something and stay around. Just keep throwing story after story at them until they finally stick on one they like. More is always better.

These kind of teases value quantity over quality. Five pounds of copy is crammed into a small 30 second bag. Great emotional sound is treated as an impediment rather than a resource. For some reason, most producers have subjected themselves to an arbitrary quota of at least three stories per tease. Producers often tell me there just isn’t time to use good sound in teases because “we have to get three stories in there.”


Cut down on the number of topics you promote in a tease. Focus on the few things you can really win, then go after them hard. You are better off promoting a few stories well, than to promote a lot of topics superficially. You have little chance of enticing viewers to stay if the promo barrels through a laundry list of topics, bent on conveying as much information as possible. The tease becomes an unintelligible blur of words and pictures.

Follow this rule: tease as many topics as can be teased clearly. Err on the side of doing fewer topics. Always utilize the best sound and video from the newscast. Quantity will not sway them. A clear understandable benefit will grab their attention. Reduce the number of topics in your tease and thoroughly sell the very best stuff in your show.

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.