CNN in a New York half-minute: The "30 Second Pitch"
By: John Lee | Published Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 2:53 PM | Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 10:33 PM
"Makeup!…and lots of it!"
Made a brief but intense visit to CNN back in February to appear live on its weekly feature, "The 30 Second Pitch."
The idea is to give people "exploring career options" in today's "challenging job market" an opportunity to go national with that jobseeker staple, the elevator speech, the nearly twitter-sized piece of oratory used when you only have a few moments to state your case. I also saw "The Pitch" as a chance to promote my consulting work and to, hopefully, showcase spokesperson abilities…
...that is, if I didn’t shank it and get my pitch tagged under "fail" on YouTube for perpetuity.
I worked-up my pitch to get on the "The Pitch" and emailed it to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line: "from fine art to fast horses"). A CNN producer responded the next business day and scheduled me to come in one week later.
After spreading the word about my upcoming appearance through Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, I got some high-value tips from media mavens with Irish roots, including video editor Paul Dougherty, author and speaker Peter Quinn, digital media consultant Patrick Sean Flaherty, and digital events producer Mary Ann Pierce.
The advice included: Focus on two or three points; keep the energy up without appearing hyper, don’t talk too fast, smile (without looking manic), and practice, practice, practice. I took that last suggestion very seriously, rehearsing my pitch as I walked down the street (with a cellphone to my ear so as to not appear completely crazy), timing it with a stopwatch, knocking out a word here, a syllable there, finally locking down the copy 24 hours before "The Pitch" and trying to commit it to my less-than-stellar memory.
That morning I emerged from the Columbus Circle subway station, and scurried through the snow (really snizzle) into CNN's New York studios. Jean, a news assistant, met me and shuttled me around for 30 minutes of prep for my 30 seconds of fame.
After getting Spackled with the make-up needed for my hi-def debut, I spent a few minutes in the Green Room before Jean led me into a small studio, sat me down in a director’s chair and plugged in the IFB (earpiece). Then I was left alone, very alone, staring at a camera operated remotely from Atlanta.
I was lucky that I knew the drill; how to adjust the volume on the earpiece, that the image on the monitor under the camera was several seconds behind "live," and that the camera lens was behind the TelePrompTer screen (which we were not using—you need to memorize your "30 Second Pitch").
While listening to the live programming and praying for no breaking news, I reviewed my spiel a few more times, did a couple of sound-checks with a technician in Atlanta and moments later was talking to anchor Kyra Phillips live.
The outcome? CNN had suggested I create a separate email address just for "The Pitch," and from that account I've gotten a couple of encouraging notes from folks I don’t know, several hard-to-gauge offers for business deals and franchising opportunities, and some complex propositions from a variety of Nigerian oil ministers, assuring me of riches beyond avarice.
But I did get a lot of good feedback from my network, along with a few good leads and, in a way, "The Pitch" led me to starting this blog on IrishCentral.com.
But enough about me: next on IrishMediaNation, the story a digital media innovator from the Dublin suburb of Coolock, now based in New York, who used his social media platform to take on an airline and then found himself in a media whirlwind well beyond a mere 30 seconds on CNN.