9 Teases and Promos
What is a tease?
A tease is usually a few lines of copy, preferably accompanied by video, promising something to viewers if they stick around through a commercial break. They can also appear during programming, exhorting viewers to watch your news, which may be a week, day(s), hours or minutes away.
At many stations, the promotions and tease producer is its own position. The tease producer attends planning meetings and works with producers to determine which stories would be tease-able. At stations without tease producers, the producer is on their own to write the teases.
Teases can be just a few seconds long or up to thirty seconds for one that occupies its own spot. They may appear in the newscast before a commercial break, right before the show starts or even mid-block. They may also run on social media as you let your friends and followers know what’s coming up.
Examples of Non-News Teases
Movie trailers are teases. They show you parts of the movie and may even develop characters and a plot line, but the good ones leave enough out to get you to want to pay to see the rest of it.
The people who give out free samples at Costco are teasing. They give you a taste of how yummy the product they’re pushing is and you can buy more from the display right behind them. The good ones make you buy a $9 bag of a new snack food you have somehow lived without up to this point.
Social media is full of teases. The good ones get you to click over when you are in a hurry and went online for something entirely different.
How to Write a Tease
The “Golden Nugget”
A good tease provides some information, enough to set up and/or arouse curiosity, and then you hold back what KSTU producer Kelton Wells calls the “Golden Nugget.” This nugget you promise is some missing or additional information your viewers will want to know about so badly they’ll stay with your newscast. If they hear it on the radio, they’ll want to get home and turn on your news.
Choosing the Nugget
You need to choose a specific aspect or fact to tease. “Details,” “More” and “A look at” are not concrete. Could you imagine a couple sitting at home watching your newscast: As you go to break, you promise them details on a new lunch program that might not be as healthy for children. Would they fight over the remote for details? Maybe if they had school-aged children.
Instead of “details,” you write COULD YOU FEED A KID A HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCH FOR $2.68? WE’LL SHOW YOU HOW THAT NUMBER IS MAKING OUR KIDS FAT. Or perhaps hold back the budget fact: EXPERTS SAY SCHOOL LUNCHES ARE MAKING OUR KIDS FAT. GUESS HOW MUCH MONEY YOUR SCHOOL GETS TO TRY TO GIVE KIDS HEALTHY LUNCHES.
Another example: Police arrested a 92-year-old bank robber. He said he fell on hard times, hates banks and has been robbing them since he was 80. He handed a note to the teller who asked twice if he was kidding. He was arrested 30 minutes after the robbery, and was just sentenced to 12 years in prison. He says the prison serves better food than his rest home.
All of the facts above are tease-able; this is not the time to say A 92-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS SENTENCED FOR ROBBING A BANK. MORE COMING UP. This might arouse some curiosity, but a concrete tease will seal the deal. Some possibilities:
A MAN GETS JUST 20 MILES AFTER ROBBING A TEXAS BANK. WAS IT A BAD GETAWAY PLAN OR HIS AGE?
A JUDGE SENTENCED A TEXAS MAN FOR ROBBING A BANK. WE’LL TELL YOU WHY HE’LL PROBABLY SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE IN PRISON… AND HE’S O-K WITH IT.
HE MIGHT BE THE OLDEST BANK ROBBER IN THE COUNTRY… WE’LL TELL YOU WHICH BIRTHDAY HE’LL BE CELEBRATING IN PRISON.
LAST TIME HE ROBBED A BANK HE WAS EIGHTY-SEVEN AND GOT PROBATION. WE’LL TELL YOU HOW MUCH OLDER HE IS NOW… AND HOW THINGS GOT MORE SERIOUS AT HIS SENTENCING TODAY.
Obviously the man’s age is the reason he’s in the news, but his motivations are curious too, so all are possibilities. You could use your viewer demographics to help you decide which elements to tease: A younger audience won’t relate to his age, so the logistics might be better. You might tease the fact that the teller asked if he was serious twice. Older viewers would appreciate that this guy prefers prison food and is even physically able to rob a bank. Since no one was hurt, you can use a lighter mood.
Tease With Care
Do not tell viewers YOU WON’T BELIEVE or YOU’LL BE SHOCKED. First, maybe they won’t be, and second, you can do better. You may have fallen for these for the first few clickbait articles you went to, but are probably done with “…is amazing!” for a while.
Do not promise what you don’t deliver. Viewers won’t fall for this twice. A trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron showed a cracked Captain America shield and enough costume wreckage, and sad music to have me believe they were beaten. I saw the movie, they were not, and I’ve been skeptical of their trailers since. If you promise to tell how to safely observe a solar eclipse, you had better have a list of places and/or conditions, a viewing box I can make or buy and some warnings from experts. If all your report says is “don’t look directly at the sun,” you have over-promised and delivered only what our mothers taught us as small children.
The Golden Nugget must be revealed and it can’t be something cheap. The social media and internet teases that lead you to pointless or drawn out articles are called clickbait; now we all laugh at people dumb enough to fall for them. Don’t make your viewers feel dumb or else they’ll go somewhere that doesn’t. The second time someone says, “made you look,” you don’t. Do not trick viewers; tease honestly with real information.
Promotions, or promos, may be its own job title or department, depending on the size of the operation. They can tease to the upcoming newscast called “topicals” or promote an anchor, your investigative unit, or promote your station’s newscast or general image. The image ads have more in common with advertising than journalism. Promos may run on air or social media. Nightly topical teases must be ready to air in a few hours. Some generic promos may be weeks in the making and use more Hollywood-style cameras and lighting, and may use external companies to produce them.