Ratings, ratings, ratings! You want to boost your ratings but you’re not sure how?
Everyone has different requirements for school announcements that are set up by the Principal, school needs and class schedule but many teachers want some ideas about the content, the order and elements that could help the show be professional and entertaining for the student body. I have a few tips with variations that could help you get a show off the ground for the first time or give you some new ideas if you are an old pro.
If you are new to this, here are some things to consider. First, think about the time of day the show will air. If it is in the beginning of the day or end of the day it could affect how you prioritize the announcements. Sometimes, getting the most important news read first is best and sometimes saving it for last works, too. Also, consider your time restrictions and show respect for instructional time in other classes. I produce a daily news show for 2 campuses each day. On my Freshman Campus, we air our show at the beginning of 2nd period and don’t have a time limit. However, recently, we have structured our show with the most important news first, then ending with lunch and weather, etc. This way, teachers who need the time for a planned class activity know the main announcements have ended and they can turn their TVs off without missing any crucial information. On the Main Campus, our News Show is at the end of 4th period, and we are locked into 4 minutes, just before students go to lunch. In this situation, teachers may not get their TVs turned on at the start of our show and holding the most important news to the end is best but making sure we don’t run out of time is most crucial. Also, decide whether your school wants the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem daily - I advise asking your Principal. Our School district doesn’t require it and we don’t have time for it everyday but, when we do, it is the first thing we start with. Finally, is your show going to be taped or live? This will also be important when setting up your procedures.
Now what about the order of your segments? Here is an example of what has worked best for my shows - every school is different. We start with a pre-recorded Pledge (if we have time), sometimes we do a ‘Cold Open’ where our anchors tease the news to come. We always have a News Show Open with music and graphics (student produced) and our anchors start with an intro that includes their name, date or day of the week and a hook that they write. We are always prepared for a last minute announcement and may refer to it as ‘Breaking News’ - sometimes they have to read this off the paper it gets delivered on because we don’t have time to put it in the teleprompter. Then we move on to announcements, sports, and weather. Finally, they have a closing line, we go to credits and fade to black. Lately, we’ve been grouping similar announcements together such as club news, senior news, etc. Other things to include if there is time are ‘Lunch Menus’, ‘Fun Facts’, ‘Healthy Tips’, ‘Special Stories’, ‘Fun Videos’ and Administrators or Special Guests.
Once you get your content down, let’s add some BLING! Do you have the ability to add Computer Graphics or a Chroma-Key Background? This can really dress up your show. If you can add computer graphics over your video, you should create lower thirds to name your Anchors and emphasis announcements. You can also create a bug for the corner with the Station ID, the Channel or ‘LIVE’. Finally, you can create informational graphics to bullet point the announcements to the side of the Anchors. If you can chroma key, you can have fun with video or still images behind your newscasters. At the very least, if you have a computer tied into your control room equipment, you can use Power Point slides to spice up your show and add visual interest. My Freshman campus is now able to create Live Type Motion Graphics to use as backgrounds for our Anchors. Students have fun making a new background each day. My main campus students have used Live Type to create show bumps leading into special segments like Club News, Sports, Weather, Breaking News and more.
Do your camera shots get boring? Here are a few more tricks to change up your show. Use more than one anchor and have them alternate their lines. If you have more than one camera, try changing camera shots frequently. Switch between a 2-shot and close ups. Ideally, it is nice to have a male and female anchor, a sportscaster and weatherperson. Of course, all of this also depends on the skill level of your students but, you can make it a show progression through the school year as your crew improves. This will also keep students challenged and interested in improving the quality of the show production.
After all this, don’t forget who your audience is. We sometimes forget the majority of our viewers are students, not faculty. This is where you have to remember that you can’t please everyone all the time. You want to keep the attention of the students while keeping the level of professionalism your school expects. This is not always easy. Halfway through the year, you might want to consider poling your viewers. My midterm exam is a survey and data analysis about our broadcast. Students get the survey form a week before the exam and are required to survey 10 teachers or students. (View it here) On exam day, we share our findings as a class and individually students fill out an evaluation with data and suggest new show ideas based on what they have learned.
Now, I am sure you are dying to see what my students produce. (at least I hope so) We have a Channel on SchoolTube for our Main Campus News Show (we usually cut out the pledge before we upload) and I invite you to check them out! Click the player above.
Misty Gentle started with long format television programs for ABC, NBC, FOX, Disney, Nickelodeon, Animal Planet, Discovery and has recently transitioned into the digital and online space. The vast variety of genres in her TV production experience has given her the opportunity to master the production process from development through post, manage websites, teach and really become a multi-media professional. Certified in Final Cut Pro, she also edits in Adobe, AVID and other Apple software. Starting at Nickelodeon, her resume includes classics such as: Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple, GUTS, You’re On, What Would You Do? and My Family’s Got GUTS. She embraces new technology, exercises creativity, and produces quality shows that entertain and inspire others.
She began teaching digital video production in 2004 with a full TV program at the middle school level. After 5 years, Gentle moved up to high school where she taught storytelling, script writing, camera operation, computer GFX and editing to 9th through 12th graders on two campuses and helped write the curriculum guide for Orange County Public Schools.
Since 2013, Gentle moved to Los Angeles to continue working in the industry. Adding to her resume with TV shows for NBC, FOX, Lifetime, Bravo and Reelz she has also produced online content for Disney’s YouTube Channel, Bravo, the CW and Machinima. These productions have given her a broad understanding of production from show concept and development through post and delivery in multiple platforms.
Gentle holds a BA degree in Communications - Television and Radio Production and is certified in Final Cut Pro and 'Technical Vocational Education - Television Production'