Posted on 11:56 am on November 24, 2015 by

What TV Commissioning Can Teach Us About Getting The Next Corporate Video Signed Off

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Do you find that video projects have a strange habit of struggling when it come to getting approved? Like suggesting dinner with a customer, they give budget holders the shivers that there will be no return on investment.

This is strange, as having a strong video strategy will ensure that video is a valuable weapon in the communications arsenal. One of the possible reasons for this reticence is that corporate video teams aren’t pitching well enough. So what can they learn from their counterparts in TV production who have to pitch to Commissioners.

In Television, it’s Commissioners who who decide what shows are made, when they are to be aired and what demographic they’d like to target. Commissioners use this power to dictate the TV that we watch, although the rise of on demand services like Netflix is slowly changing the commissioning landscape (see Lesson #5 on our recent blog post).

4K Netflix Commissioning

Believe Your Own Hype

Television represents such a golden ticket to wealth, fame and happiness that Commissioners are literally bombarded with ideas for the next X Factor, Game of Thrones and Saturday Night Live. Part of the reason any of these successful shows were aired was that their creators absolutely, from the bottom of their soul, believed 100% in the idea. The same should be true of your idea for a video project, otherwise your lack of commitment will be obvious.

Make a Killer Pitch

Video is a creative process and so people naturally expect something a bit different and hopefully entertaining when they’re pitched to. In TV this is sometimes represented as a short – and usually quite rough – version of the show. So why not shoot a 30 second excerpt on your phone to give people an idea of what to expect? Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, just provide a glimpse of what might be possible once you secure some investment.

Know Who You’re Pitching To

Pitching an idea for a video project is basically selling. One of the great talents of great salespeople is their ability to connect with people, often by empathising with a person. Empathy allows salespeople to share common pain and goals, then use that to persuade others of the certain course of action. Knowing who you’re pitching to and using that to your advantage gives you a massive advantage in the presentation.

Listen To Their Ideas

Once you’re done explaining your idea for the next video, it’s important to use that other great sales skill: listening. In television, commissioners wrestle a complex set of variables to determine whether a show will work on their channel. Is it in-line with their audience profile? How does it compare to other shows in the line up? How would it perform against competing shows? They may then wish to make adjustments to the idea to ensure it fits in with these challenges. So be prepared to be flexible and to make amends to your video plan to ensure it gets the green light.

Expect Rejection

Some of the best ideas for television have been through several rounds of rejection. Rejection is a fact of life in commissioning and it’s important to remember that being rejected by a commissioner isn’t a personal affront (unless you did something stupid of course). That great idea can be taken to another commissioner, though it’s always a good idea to take all the references to the other channel off the pitch. Everyone wants to feel special, even commissioners.

While the likes of Netflix are trying to circumvent the commissioning process, hopefully there are some useful lessons the process can teach us in getting corporate video projects approved.


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