Tips for Writing News Promos and Teases

When it comes to doing teases (or “stand-up bumps”), too often the reporter will give away the entire story, rather than truly “tease” the listener or viewer.  Most of them are too long, and give away too many details.

Print writing coaches often illustrate the difference between a headline and a tease by holding up the front page of a newspaper, and saying “the big black print you can read from ten feet away is a headline, the sub-head of the story, if there is one, is a tease”. 

A good tease makes the viewer or listener want to stick around to see or hear the story.  A bad tease tells them all they really care to know about it, and doesn’t entice them to stay tuned.  Just like in dating, it’s enough to keep you interested, without giving it away.

A tease that gives it all away is “Five people died in a house fire on Elm Street that broke out about five o’clock, and firefighters still don’t know what caused it”.  A better tease is “It’s one of the most deadly house fires in Ourtown in years, and I’ll have the latest for you in a few minutes”.  Don’t give the story away with the tease.

A news promo should leave the viewer or listener with the impression that your newscast has important stories which they can’t get anywhere else, and the sense that if they’re not watching or listening, they may miss something important to them.  A good promo gives a compelling reason for the listener or viewer to come back and watch or listen to you again (“sample the product again”, as the consultants say).  One of the highest-rated statements, year after year in research, is the phrase “news you can’t get anywhere else”.

One kind of effective news promo is the “proof of performance” promo, which illustrates to the viewer or listener that your news department lives up to the claim of being first, best, or whichever attribute you use to market the news image.