Creative Nottingham logo
Creative Nottingham logo
Artwork by Patrick DolanMore Information

Mediacamp Nottingham March 27th: Alec McPhedran – preparing for a pitch

Alec McPhedran from Skills Channel TV is a learning professional who has worked a lot with creative media and television in recently years.

Pitching is all about displaying your passion for your subject and conveying that to others. The key is in the preperation and being well prepared for your pitch.

Look out for visual and language clues: many people in the creative sector are more visually driven – spreadsheets and numbers can be a turn off so try charts and a visual approach.  Look out for clues when you talk to someone, or snoop on their website and see if they are buzzwords and focus you can accommodate into your pitch.  “I feel what you’re saying” isn’t incorrect – it can be comforting as sensory language attracts certain types of people.

Alec worked with a TV producer who wanted to pitch an idea for “Eastenders set in Dublin”.  This idea is not sufficiently original for a TV exec – so he created an atmospheric story, opening and setting the scene on the action which can draw a parallel from a familiar soap the commissioner would know well.

Have a synopsis of your idea – share it with friends to practice.  Write it down to clarify it and give it a life.  You may bump into potential buyers anywhere and you need to be prepared with the key facts and information to pitch.  You ‘story’ needs a strapline.   People remember short sentences of about eight words long: an idea strapline is 10-15 words in length.  Articulate your vision using punchy short sentences.

In television you need to think about what the cross-platform idea might be.  Funds like 4ip by Channel 4 want a very different approach to traditional TV.  Having non-broadcast elements can strength the financial position, creating new income streams and co-investors.  In other creative media, who else can you collaborate with to strength your proposition?

The classical ‘elevator pitch’ is still a good model for framing your proposition: in three minutes can you sell what you idea is and take it to the next stage of progressing the sale?

Use your network and research skills to find out in depth information.  Find out as much as you can about budget to frame what you can deliver.

Know who you’re pitching too and who you’re writing too.  Email can be tough, only email assets if you have been asked.  Make it easy for those on the receiving end: a short video clip or images could be a more engaging aid.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Assume that you may not have access to visual aids or Powerpoint.  If you have access to these tools make sure that’s confirmed in advance but make that as a back-up to the pitch not the key aid.  Don’t make yourself secondary to a screen – you are the storyteller.  Ensure visual aids, e.g. Powerpoint, aren’t overloaded with text.

Stick to narrative structure like you would see on the news:
1) we’re hear to talk to you about A) B) C)
2) Then we’ll chat at the end
3) It’ll take XX minutes
Structure it out:
– Go through your content
– Summarise and repeat

Before you start, reiterate the timing – are you still free for an hour?  Decide between your team who will lead on what.  If you’re asked a taxing question, don’t be afraid to go to the back of the room or ask for a break to talk about it.  They even do it on Dragon’s Den!

Some buyers want to be involved in developing the idea (particularly pitching to certain TV commissioners) – utilising knowledge on companies to understand the personalities involved.

Tools like Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats gives you an approach to how you can develop your idea.  A ‘red hat’ is the passionate outlook, ‘white hat’ is the pure, quantatitive information. Remember the happy ‘yellow hat’ – the benefits and excitement about your idea.   This prepares you to give different reponses to the kind of questions you may be asked.

There are other organisations out there that can help you in developing your idea like Business Link and EM Media.