My recent Pitch Perfect session at the Children’s Media Conference was a terrific opportunity to open the vault on experts’ tips for successful pitching.
Conference participants heard from Heather Kenyon who has been on both sides of the table – as a development exec at Cartoon Network and now an exec producer at Citizen Kids; Orion Ross heading up animation and digital at Disney Channels EMEA; Curtis Jobling creator of big kids’ hits like Bob the Builder and writer of many books; John Lomas-Bullivant, a seasoned veteran of the television and publishing worlds; Christopher Keenan (pictured), SVP of Mattel Creations; Mellie Buse, showrunner, who ably guided us through the afternoon and myself as the author and creator of the ebook and the online course How to Win Your Next Creative Pitch.
It’s always great to hear other people’s stories – that’s our business. Commissions happen when the buyers’ needs meets the right unique idea with a number of crucial ingredients.
For instance, in a chance meeting with a commissioner, a writer and I pitched an idea we’ve been working on and we came away with a development deal. It’s having the right concept at the right time or the kismet of being in the right place. But, as they say, success is 95% perspiration and 5% luck. Be ready when the opportunity strikes.
Or, like John Lomas-Bullivant, you hear the needs of the buyer and are innovative. His persistence and creativity successfully moved a live-action pitch to an animated one to gain a slot on a broadcaster’s schedule – emphasizing how important it is to be flexible and yet firm on the DNA of the concept.
It was instructive to hear from Disney’s Orion Ross that, during the pitch, you must find out from the buyer when to follow up. That means any of the subsequent calls, emails or updates have a framework and legitimacy. It’s crucial to establish an agreed upon time frame while you’re in the pitch meeting.
Conference participants received feedback on their pitches and, again, it was underscored that distilling your project into one sentence – call it what you want, a logline or a focus statement – helps the listener know the direction of the story and what’s at stake.
Mattel’s Christopher Keenan was clear that audience is crucial in any concept. They need to be included in the research before the pitching of an idea. What is happening with your target audience right now? We know, for instance, that 75% of kids in the UK are on tablets so does that change your way of delivering the story? With the popularity of Wonder Woman, do little girls now crave super heroines? What will be the next ‘big’ girl property?
In the video below, Christopher Keenan gives some tips on making a successful pitch. You can hear more of Christopher’s interview on my Facebook page, so come on over.
The goal of any pitch, unless you get an unexpected greenlight, is to have a conversation which leads to a second meeting. You have to keep in mind the person you are pitching needs to champion your concept up the chain. Clarity is key, so start that conversation.
My ebook and online course is geared towards helping you perfect your pitch through examples, checklists and worksheets. If you’re not already signed up to my mailing list, join now and receive a free sample of pages from my ebook, How to Win Your Next Creative Pitch.