Six Key Elements to Successful, Effective Pitching

Success Having gone directly from DreamWorks Animation to Sterling Communications, I have found there’s a common element to getting both client news and movie ideas noticed that they don’t teach you in school: You have to be able to sell. In the same way that movies are pitched to a roomful of deep-pocketed bigwigs or a building full of animators and production staffers (as at DreamWorks), PR professionals have to know how to really sell an idea to media and analysts. Here are 6 key elements to effective pitching that are as pertinent on Madison Avenue as they are on Melrose Avenue.



(1) If you build it, they will come.

* Make sure you’ve built up a good hook, and know what you’re pitching inside and out.

* Think through your entire pitch to be able to answer any question thrown at you.

* The media, like movie executives and investors, will challenge your claims, so be ready to provide validation.


Topgun (2) Feel the need – the need for speed!

* Similar to Hollywood execs, reporters are often in a rush and only have a limited amount of time to listen to your message.

* Get to the point quickly, ideally in the first sentence of your pitch.

* Generally, keep pitches short, but be willing to provide more details if asked.


Whenharrymetsally (3) I’ll have what she’s having.

 * Reach out to media contacts appropriate to your pitch, in the same way one would target studios making like-minded movies.

* Be aware of the recent work that your targets have done, and position your client as part of those current trends.

* Act as matchmaker between the reporter and your client, and have them see the connection to their typical coverage area but also the unique, never-before-covered angle.


OnTheWaterfront (4) I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender.

 * If you’re gracious and open, even if they say no at first, media and movie execs alike will often keep you in mind for other projects.

* Tell them the pitch that you’d tell your friends over a beer, NOT the pitch you’d tell your friends’ parents to impress them.

* If all else fails, kill them with kindness.


TaxiDriver (5) You talkin’ to me?

 * Listen to their feedback. The input you receive might actually make your idea better.

* Every so often, your feedback will come in the form of your pitch being published verbatim (without notice and hopefully in a positive way). For example, I recently had a pitch published, email subject and all! So give your pitches the same level of thought and attention to detail as you would a published piece of work – because you never know when something you write may actually end up published.


ToyStory (6) To infinity – and beyond!

 * Prepare to receive more nos than yeses at first, as is the case at movie pitch meetings as well.

* Be tenacious, and don’t give up.

* On the other hand, know when to pull back. There’s a fine line between being assertive and being annoying. You need to push, but don’t burn a bridge.



For any pitching strategies that I missed, feel free to add your own in the comments field below to continue the discussion. And, with that said, go out there and make an offer they can’t refuse!


Photo credits:

zaraki.kenpachi via Flickr

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Pikturz via Flickr

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