Pitching Creative Ideas


I’m in the process of writing a book. Well, more precisely, I’m in the process of researching and making notes for a book!

As part of this I’m reading various articles on the writing process. This covers not just the book itself but also pitching it as well as hopefully making it a success.

In a recent newsletter by the writing coach Jurgen Wolff, I came across this interesting extract:

Considering all the lip service paid to creativity you’d think the world is clamouring for new ideas. Well, actually it is – in theory. But if you come up with something new, more often than not you’ll find tremendous resistance.

I suspect this is true of all fields. I can certainly attest to it within the film and TV industry. More than once I’ve heard “We want something new, fresh and edgy!”

You pitch them a new, fresh, and edgy idea…

Here’s what’s going through their heads:

  • “This thing could fail. I’ll get blamed. Better play it safe.”
  • “If this is so great, why hasn’t somebody done it already?”
  • “I get it, but the people in marketing won’t.”
  • “I get it, but the audience/reader/average person won’t.”
  • “If we make it more like that thing that was a success last year it’s more likely to succeed, too.”
  • “I’ll leave in this little fragment of edgy, that’ll show I’m a creative thinker but I don’t go overboard.”

This raised a smile as it reminded me of the time when I was a bid manager. These bids (in leading-edge scitech areas) varied from the small and specialised to some very big and complex ones. However in nearly all cases the customer (often a government department) was adamant that he/she was looking for ‘innovative solutions’. Ideally they should have little or no risk and yet deliver high rewards!

Helpfully, in the context of books, Wolff goes on to suggest the following approaches to overcoming these difficulties (which could also be useful in other areas, the following is an extract):

How can you disarm these idea-killers?

You can avoid some of these traps if you follow these strategies in your pitch:

GO HIGH: Deal with the highest person on the decision-making ladder that you can.

RELATE: Compare it to something that has been successful.

INVOLVE: Try to get the other person to buy into the idea early.

ANTICIPATE: Think about what objections they might have and defuse them with the “some people might think” strategy.

REASSURE: If possible, show that somebody else already likes this idea or was willing to take a chance on it.

ACTION: If you are passionate about a project that has not found the necessary approval in the past, consider whether one or more of these strategies might lead to a different result.

Quite a useful checklist.

Picture credit: here.


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