Top 5 tips on pitching in awards season – a judges point of view

British Video Association LogoOver the past 4 years, I’ve been very lucky to judge the Annual British Video Association (BVA) awards amongst others.  The awards, dubbed recently by popular tech journalist (and fellow judge) Steve May (@stevemay_uk) as the “UK trade BAFTAs/Oscars” for the Home Entertainment Industry are a real highlight to the year.  Whilst the results won’t be announced until May at the awards ceremony, I thought it would be useful to share some common learnings on ‘Pitching to Judges’ that I’ve observed over the past few years at the BVA and other judging panels – so I’ve compiled my top 5 below:

Please note: if you were one of the entries this year – none of the points below will give an indication of your result before May – sorry!!):

1. Show passion:  Judges don’t just want to see a good technical delivery, they want to know you really care for the work you are presenting.  Show your love for the product/brand and how this influenced it’s success.  We’re all human after all – so show it.

2. Pushing the industry forward:  Did the campaign do something that others will follow in the future?  One of the most exciting examples I had was in my first year judging, when Disney presented the first example of a Blu-Ray and DVD double pack – something we see everywhere now with the common Triple-Pack Blu-Rays (inc. DVD and download).  They took the first step, and the industry quickly followed suit.

3. Explain the risks you took:  If you took a risk and it paid off – let us know.  Did you do something that the established industry said couldn’t work, or fought internally to convince senior management or a partner to take a new approach.  Don’t shy away from giving us the inside scoop on how you had to work to change perceptions and came out on top.

4. Don’t let gimmicks get in the way:  Over the years, I’ve seen some fabulous presentations and the quality is always high.  However, the challenge when pitching is to balance the information with the gimmick.  It’s easy to get carried away with the concept of the pitch, but at the end of the day judges have to score on common criteria.  So if you don’t share the details of the campaign as requested, then it won’t matter how memorable the pitch was.  Try to strike the right balance of making your pitch memorable (and fun) whilst ensuring you get across all the right information.   NOTE #2: Again – 2012 entries read nothing into this!

5. The ON button:  Finally, please learn how to use the technology you bring into the room.  When you can’t get the screen to work or laptop to fire up, it really doesn’t bother the judges, but it always flusters you, and eats into your time with us.  Don’t give yourself a reason to start the pitch feeling like you have messed things up or have to apologise.  Make sure one of your team knows how to use your laptop inside out and always bring a spare copy on a pen drive just in case.

After last week, I am already looking forward to next year, and to the awards themselves in May.  As a final thought from me to all those who entered the BVA awards:  Remember – to get down to the last few is just as good a reason to feel proud of yourself as picking up the award in May.  I have never found it easy to decide on a winner, because the quality if so high and the campaigns I’ve seen over the years are truly excellent – so well done so far and good luck for May!


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