When To Tell and When To Sell

By Doug Drew 

Most producers have to write a pre-show tease or headline at the top of the newscast. Almost everyone does them the same way, usually three top stories, each with a piece of video, with wipes between each one.

Usually it’s the producer who picks these stories, and most start with whatever the lead story is, followed by two other big stories of the day.

But the reality is that these headlines are there for one purpose and one purpose only: to get people into the newscast. Whether we like to admit it or not, they are simply ads for the newscast.

Anyone who has gone through the 602 Communications tease writing course has heard this before, but many news people still have a difficult time accepting this concept.

As a former news producer, I now realize that a good producer has to wear two hats. One is the journalism hat that we wear 90 percent of the time. However, every good producer also needs to know when to take off that hat and put on the promo hat: you wear that hat when writing those headlines or pre-show teases, or any tease for that matter. It’s a totally different technique.

You have to face the fact that the pre-show tease or top of the show headline is an advertisement for your newscast. Pick the best stories that will draw people into the newscast. Pick the most interesting, unique, compelling stories that fall anywhere within your newscast.

Good Morning America and The Today Show are experts at this. Watch the top of their programs and you will see the great job they do including the big news story of the day, plus those incredible stories that you just have to see.

Don’t worry about flow or placing like stories together. The email tease from ABC for World News on Tuesday was: “Did alleged Fort Hood shooter slip through the cracks, PLUS: Sesame Street Celebrates it’s 40th Anniversary.”

One of the constant themes in the 602 Communications tease writing workshop is that teases should SELL a story, not TELL a story. So when writing those pre-show teases or top of the show opens, keep that in mind. This is where you SELL the newscast. The sole purpose is to get viewers into the newscast.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at ddrew@602communications.com.

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