Pay special attention to the first and last line of the anchor intro. This critical story element should start strong, then give an enticing taste of what’s to come.
The first line of your package should be the strongest of the piece. It should grab your attention, leaving the viewer curious for explanatory details. As you’re reviewing scripts, pay special attention to this critical beginning. It should contain the most interesting and provocative fact from the story. Don’t save it for later. Put your most dramatic and amazing fact in the first line.
“The mayor is in jail tonight.”
“Jennifer never thought that three pigs would end up in her basement.”
“Get ready for a big tax hike.”
Don’t start with history. Never begin a package with background information or past happenings. Avoid the temptation to tell the story chronologically. Packages that “begin at the beginning” are doomed to start with old and outdated facts. Most reporters tend to saunter up to the impressive story details, assuming viewers will stick around while they methodically build to the juicy stuff. Remember that all our viewers have ADD. You have seconds to impress them, not minutes.
Weak: “The mayor’s office finished up its financial assessment today.”
Stronger: “The mayor says the city is broke.”
Weak: “Frank Johnson has been the chief resident at City Hospital for five years.”
Stronger: “City Hospital refuses to give any more flu shots.”
Finally, end the anchor intro with a promise of specific information to be revealed in the package. Most anchor intros end with generic phrases. Show the audience there is real meat inside the package. Identify the juiciest fact in the piece, then make a specific promise of the great coverage to come.
Weak: “Joe Smith is here with more.”
Stronger: “Joe Smith tells us why the mayor won’t give an inch on school funding.”
Weak: “Bob Jones has details.”
Stronger: Bob Jones tells us the clever way the family escaped the burning building.
Weak: Jessica Martin has been checking out the story.
Stronger: Jessica Martin tells us why these pets won’t go to new homes.
Remember, this last line of the anchor intro is a tease, plain and simple. It’s purpose is not just to inform, but to bridge the viewer on to the great content within the story. Feel free to pull these lines directly from story teases you used earlier in the newscast.
Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at firstname.lastname@example.org.