OK, we pitched: Now what?

Jul 31 2014

My team, Powering a Nation, had been working all summer to perfect its idea and present it to the dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and others from around the university. Our focus for three weeks leading up to the pitch was on fixing the holes in our idea, answering the questions we knew we would get, and perfecting our presentation.

Powering a Nation’s goal is to shed light on energy use in the Southeast and the implications it has for society by presenting stories through visually attractive media. Our idea was to turn the successful summer-only project based at the J-school into a year-round operation that draws on connections across departments and organizations on campus.

Our pitch was well-received, so now, we just need funding. Without even realizing it, our group has become a development team. We have set up multiple meetings with the development office in both the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and with the Institute for the Environment at UNC.

Everyone seemed to have different opinions about our next steps to find funding, but we were in agreement about one thing. If our idea is going to be successful, we needed to start convincing other people it is worth their time AND money. This process had begun prior to our pitch and the end was not anywhere in sight.

At the beginning of the summer Bill Ammerman, director of sales and marketing for Capitol Broadcasting Company, came to talk with the Capitol Hound and Powering a Nation teams. The one main take away: Every job is about sales.

In just a few months our team had pitched to over thirty people, revising our ideas and method of presentation after each time. We were officially in the business of sales. Our discussions had drifted from content and structure to the best way to approach companies for sponsorships, how to write a grant proposal, and finding “warm contacts.”

It was clear that we needed to build relationships within the university and outside. Persistence had and would be key in the next semester as we push our way to the top of the priority list in each department.

With so many conversations evolving, we realized organization was key. Each member on our team had started to build relationships with people helping Powering a Nation and it was important to continue that trust. One asset the team was already working with was the name Powering a Nation, which already had credentials and a huge support system.

We decided to make a list of people who had supported us throughout the process so far. This narrowed list would officially be called our “Team of Champions.” The strategy: pick people across departments on campus with different expertise and a relatively high level of interest in the project.

I’m still not sure exactly what our team is doing in the fall because we ask that question every day when we come in the office, but I do know we’ll face it together. In the end, it’s going to further the idea, which began just two months ago.

With expertise from Bill Ammerman, the thirty people we pitched our idea to, and our Team of Champions, our team is excited for what lies ahead.


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