Angelo J. Bell: Pitching Lessons Learned In the Fire

never_give_upby Angelo J. Bell

At yesterday’s pitch to STYLE NetworkRamona and I pulled out all the stops to take advantage of the fact that we had the attention of the show’s execs for 20 minutes.

Shortly into the first pitch for a competition-based fashion reality show I knew in my mind that they were going to pass. I got the vibes. I read their expressions: “PASS”

So we got creative. When they mentioned how a similar show is running into problems maintaining audience interest with models, I spontaneously threw in an idea about using real people, like the US Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team. They liked that idea, but not enough to change their minds.

But Ramona bought her secret weapon: Her iPad and an special app for a fashion business owned by a friend, for which we’d been brainstorming a docudrama-style show. I knew the first project was dead in the water. I figured, Why not just go for it now!

I told them abut the project, the real-life tie-ins to fashion and style. Ramona whipped out the iPad and we presented it, cold. No practice. No warm-up. We seized the moment and went for it.

Surprisingly, the two executives liked the idea. They especially thought the app was hot and could tie into some promotional elements STYLE was doing to promote the network. The problem was: there was no specific audience to tap into. The business owners and the app-makers  were “unknowns” and have no following to which we could market. And so they passed.

Key learnings were:

  • Recognize early on when the pitch is dying. Change strategies if you can, don’t give up easily — but know when it’s over. A “no” doesn’t mean the pitch was bad, it just means the concept wasn’t right for that particular network. (we’re taking our concept to other networks because we still believe in it)
  • Know your concept left and right, inside out, upside down. If you can’t toss your index cards away and just talk about your concept, you don’t know your story.
  • Don’t try to memorize anything (except maybe your logline).  Everything else, even your characters, you should KNOW
  • Be confident enough in your back-up concept to pitch it on the spot, with little or no preparation.
  • Know what you are pitching.
  • Practice your strategy. Start with a general pitch/marketing concept or tagline that naturally leads into your logline…then PITCH!

Most of all, ENJOY THE PROCESS. I get a kick out of getting nervous just before a pitch meeting. I laugh at myself. I enjoy the challenge of settling my nerves and forcing myself to bring  my A-game. It always helps to have a partner. Ramona gets sweaty palms, and then she worries about shaking hands with the execs LOL. I like to tease her about it, we both have a laugh and then we get over ourselves and just DO THE DAMN THING!

ps. I’ll have to remember to bring a clean white handkerchief to the next pitch meeting for Ramona, ;)