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Pitching to Senior Management

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Frank Sheppard
Pitching to Senior Management
on May 19, 2005 at 2:17:25 pm

I am an operational supervisor and instructor for the company which runs Canada's air navigation system. Wearing my instructor hat, we have been experimenting with using video (of simulations and interviews, etc) to assist with our always ongoing training, hopefully to get an assessment of its value to both the trainees (increased proficiency, etc) and to the company (cost-effectiveness).

Recently I made a suggestion to our Director of Communications regarding having a sytematic method of collecting both video and photographs at sites which have just experienced significant emergencies, incidents and/or accidents, for potential use in our training programs. Currently there is nothing in place for collecting such material. The Director would now like to have a meeting with me regarding this idea.

While I am perfectly willing to admit that I may be reading too much into this future meeting, I really think this is an opportunity to "sell" the benefits/cost effectiveness of video and it could lead to the creation of a new video production position within the company.

Have any of you pitched similar ideas to your bosses? How did it go? Any suggestions?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Pitching to Senior Management
on May 19, 2005 at 4:11:27 pm

Usually not well.

Of course you'er going to bring inthe numbers, the spreadsheets, etc that tell the money side of the story, how this new approach is going to benefit, etc. But that's often only part of the sale.

In my case, I think most of the problem is that for myself and some experienced co-workers, we can convey just a few sketchy details of an idea and we're creative enough to visualize the whole thing, complete, in our heads. We have a lot of creative shorthand in our common vocabulary so we can state "A>>>Z" without having to write out all the letters in between.

The wall I keep running into is many clients outside of our creative circle plain lack this ability, they really *can't* imagine the finished product, you have to mock up a simulation or actual example, as close to the final version as possible, before they "get it". Any little visual discontinuities like a title card insert that says "so-and-so effect HERE", just blows their minds. Any little perceived technical issue they come up with must have a counter-argument prepared to a fine level of detail, or they just put the blinders on and say "it's impossible, that can never work". And you're done. I have had exactly that happen, down to the "it's impossible", only to be able to show a competitor doing exactly that impossible thing a month later, too late for us.

So often, I can't get permission to TRY to do something until I go ahead and DO it and thus SHOW it can be done... very circular!;-) I guess this is one reason why Animatics, photomatics, pre-comps, pre-viz, etc are all so popular, because they get the creatives and non-creatives to one standardized common vision of what's to be done. The visual equivalent of a script treatment.

So my advice to you, Frank, FWIW is to make as finished-looking of a demo as you can, however you can, and bring that to the pitch, unless you're a really good stand-up storyteller.

The danger of this demo piece is that they may fall in love with an element in it that's really not the most important part of the whole, and they will get really tweaked if you cut or change that later, whether your reasons are good or not. And obviously, if this is a knocked-together simulation of the final product, there's the danger they can't make the cognitive leap past a poor-looking element and the future one that will replace it. Some people get it just looking at the wire frame, other people have to see a final shaded render. It's all a balancing act.

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Re: Pitching to Senior Management
on May 20, 2005 at 1:35:35 pm

"The danger of this demo piece is that they may fall in love with an element in it that's really not the most important part of the whole, ....they can't make the cognitive leap past a poor-looking element and the future one that will replace it."

Another danger is that when management views what you have put together and they figure why do they need a video dept. or even a budget because look at what you did with nothing. As Mark put it "they can't make the cognitive leap". It so difficult to get some people to understand. One thought is that you might suggest that we are all exposed to so much media today that if the product is not intelligent and of reasonable quality then the audience might just tune out. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea just be prepared.


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Re: Pitching to Senior Management
on May 24, 2005 at 2:35:18 pm


Having been in your position a few times in the government realm of broadcasting, I would say the MOST important thing is EDUCATION of what it takes to get the final product. How many times have I heard just videotape this or that and put it up on air? I have to maintain a professional standard of quality and we just don't shoot something and put it up on air. Too many managers or just non-video professionals have and expectation that the project comes out finished with video, sound and graphics right out of the camera. Boy, if I could make that happen I would be a gazillionaire! I think it would be a great idea for you to make a sample to illustrate the project in detail, but document the time spent, equipment used and cost of everything involved. Your life could be hectic if you sell the idea and later they find out how much time it takes to edit and produce a project. Think of everything as far as costs, but have a Plan B.
There is a good post in the Corporate Video Forum about starting a new company that Mark Suszko replied to that may help in your research, planning and presentation. You in a sense are starting a new company, albeit a department, but it is the same. Get feedback from this forum and others.


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