Tips for Pitching a Program Concept

There are several steps that come into play when you are going to pitch a program concept to a network.  Earlier I posted an article regarding “Ideas Networks are Looking For.”  While it is important to understand what networks do and don’t want at a particular time, it is separate from actually pitching the program itself.  The following will help you understand the entire process from start to finish.  Using these tools, will help you be prepared to pitch your concept to a network. Most of what you need to accomplish will be done before the pitch meeting ever takes place.

Create a Concept

This may sound simple, but often times coming up with the actual idea is the toughest part. Once you have the idea other things will start to fall into place. There are a couple of very important things to remember, especially if you are pitching a program for the first time and have no clout.

  • Your concept should be unique.
  • You should be passionate about it. (if you aren’t why should they be?)
  • The concept should be yours. If you are trying to do a spin-off or pitch a concept that you took from someone, then only trouble awaits you.

All of these factors are important to remember no matter what type of concept you are pitching.

Write a Treatment

There are a ton of articles and postings that talk about what a “treatment” is. Let’s be somewhat brief on it so we don’t spend too much time with it. A treatment is not a script! You don’t want to write a full-blown script before you have pitched the show. You will also never get any executive to read through a long script, they don’t have the time.  They will often receive numerous proposals per week to be reviewed.  A television treatment is generally very short (5 pages at most), usually one to three is plenty. This is something you need to edit and re-edit to make sure it reads well.

Network and Promote

This is how you get your finished treatment out to the public. Make a ton of copies and always have one with you. Give it to anyone and everyone that is willing to take it and read it. You never know who knows whom and who may end up reading it. Get to any and all conferences you can, especially ones that you know networks will be at. A great example is Comic Con. Yes there will be hundreds of others doing the same thing, but networking is still the thing to do.

Research

When I use the term research, I mean to research everything related to what you are trying to do. Research all of the following to help you gain more understanding and insight:

  • Networks
  • Production Companies
  • Executives
  • Market Research
  • Insider Publications (Variety, Hollywood Reporter, etc)

You can find contact information for just about any network – cable or otherwise, online.  Research is extremely important, as you will want to know and understand answers to anything you may be faced with during this process.  Think of it as doing homework for something you love.

Get a Pitch Meeting

If you feel you are ready-to-go when it comes to the pitch meeting, then now you have to go about landing one.  You have accomplished everything up to this point and you feel you are primed to give it a go, so how do you land a pitch meeting?  If you have an agent, producer or lawyer, then this is where they make their money.  Use them to setup pitch meetings for you.  If you don’t have any of these, then make the calls yourself. You should also have a concise 30 second version of your concept which you can deliver over the phone.  Once you have the pitch meeting you should realize that you are probably scheduled for about 10-minutes. This is the time you have to impress the powers that be.

So how do you come out of the pitch meeting knowing you did your best no matter what the verdict is?

  • Practice the Pitch on Your Friends
  • Arrive to the Pitch Meeting at Least 15-minutes Early
  • Bring Enough Treatments for Everyone
  • Be Ready to Pitch the Show Concept Verbally
  • Be Willing to Answer Any Questions
  • Be willing to Take Criticism and Suggestions
  • Believe in Yourself and Your Idea
  • Go All Out

The longer you are in the meeting – even if you are being criticized, the better your chances become of getting the green light. If the verdict is a negative, don’t get down, just continue to pursue and setup other pitch meetings. Keep hitting that pavement hard and something good will happen!

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To download this article as a PDF > Tips for Pitching a Program Concept

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