Niki Wheeler: What a winning PR account pitch looks like

Opinion: What a winning PR account pitch looks like

Launch director Niki Wheeler recalls this year’s Creative Shootout final and breaks down the key PR pitching tips communicators can take away from the event.

Niki Wheeler Launch

Niki Wheeler

Imagine the pressure. You’re responding to a charity brief – live, in front of an audience at BAFTA (which by the way is equipped with handheld voting devices) before a panel of industry leaders, who are about to tell you if you’ve nailed it… or missed the mark.

This was the fate of the nine brave teams who entered The Creative Shootout 2018. Watching their pitches was a masterclass in what really happens when the competition get their talent to nail their colours to the mast and sell their next a “big idea”.

From a comfy vantage point in the audience, it’s easy to have a perspective. Which pitch can you instantly imagine your friends sharing on social? What can you hear your mum saying she’s seen on Good Morning Britain?

Yet the interval, which involved a few drinks for us audience members (we’ll confess), was another great test for the campaign concepts. “What was your favourite?” and “Who do you think will win?” were the questions on everyone’s lips.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the most memorable and easy to articulate ideas that were getting talked about, even ahead of the judges’ verdict.

Surely everyone in our business wants their ideas to cause a buzz in a bar? And with that in mind – most of us came away with some clear takeaways from the event:

Remember to answer the brief

Judges said they wanted a big idea that could be followed from insight to result, would answer the brief and work for FareShare, the food distribution charity. But, it seemed that some agencies in the competition defaulted to brand awareness campaigns that didn’t necessarily nail the volunteering brief or guarantee a unanimous “yes” from the audience.

They say the best ideas are easy to explain…

We all know what it’s like pitching to a news desk. But it was interesting to see that Raw London, this year’s winning agency, took far less than the allocated 10 minutes to present a simple, cleverly packaged idea. Acres of scene setting, complex concepts or logistics made central themes tougher to grasp or get excited about.

Give everyone involved a role

A couple of finalists on stage didn’t say anything at all during the presentations, so it was hard for them to look 100% engaged throughout.

With just a few hours to prepare a pitch, it can be tough to get everyone feeling confident for “curtain up”. But it’s always great to see teams interacting positively with each other under pressure to bring their ideas to life.

Turn off your phones!

Perhaps short of rehearsal time, many of the teams read their presentations straight from their mobile phones. This is the millennial and centennial equivalent of reading slides, I guess. But it’s also less engaging – and while ideas reign at BAFTA, how you present them matters, too.

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