Owning the first 1:00

For the past several years, a trend has been developing in the production of television newscasts.  Producers are being charged with the goal of “owning the first minute.”  In the September 2007 issue of RTNDA’s Communicator magazine, writer Paula Pendarvis puts it this way: 

Today’s newscasts don’t simply start, they sell, with custom-crafted elements designed to keep the viewer glued to the news.

The two most prevalent kick-off methods are:  heading straight to the top story, or inviting viewers to stick around with a slickly produced “supertease” that features sound bites, action video and reporter standups.

The article goes on to quote Paul Greeley, vice president of marketing and promotions for Nexstar Broadcasting, who compares the supertease to a “movie trailer, a highlight reel of your own show.”  Greeley says several things are important to create a good supertease:

  • Creating systems and deadlines to ensure crisp promotion.  (If you don’t have the video available or the production time set aside, these teases won’t fly.)
  • Make promises and be sure to deliver.  Avoid empty phrases such as “I’ll have the latest” or “I’ll have details” – instead tell viewers what they’ll learn.
  • Producers need to act as coaches for reporters, helping them to deliver the best stand-up teases possible.

 The article also points out that you need to know when the supertease won’t work:

  • Stick to your schedule.  If you don’t have the elements available by the production deadline, don’t try to do it.
  • Be sure you have the content.  As KFDX-TV news director Chris Huston says, “Content determines form.”  If you don’t have what you need for a supertease, drop it.

This article is available to RTNDA members in its entirety at http://www.rtnda.org/pages/communicator/current-issue.php.

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