How to structure an elevator pitch

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How to structure a winning elevator pitch

So you know about Vanity Fair editor Michael Caruso’s elevator pitches, and why it’s a good idea for you to be able to pitch in less than 60 seconds. But how exactly do you put a speed pitch together so you can be ready for a snatched few minutes with a journalist if the occasion arises?

A note to self before pitching is to tell the journalist your story as if you were telling an uninterested friend who has never been a good listener. What nuggets will you pick out to convey to them that there really is something fabulous going on that you really want them to experience themselves? Today, only too often, we resort to phones to show photos of various things going on in our lives – do that and you’ve lost your friend’s (or journalist’s) attention.

Here's how you get started:

Step 1

Work out what it is that gets YOU excited about this story. If you believe the story has legs, and is a really good fit for the publication, you’ll convey that in your pitch – enthusiasm is key.

Step 2

USPs – probably the only marketing term I know because it pertains to publicity in spades. Why is this story better than the other 20 the journalist is going to be told today? What makes it stand out? Why should they be writing about it now? There are dozens of things this journalist could be covering – how is your story different? This is your top line, and what will be the headline on their article.

Available now:

Download the all-in-one calendar guide to the special editions that top UK glossy magazines plan to run this year.

Select a month to see which mags are publishing specials, and when they will be on sale, giving you time to perfectly craft and execute your pitch.

Step 3

Add answers to the five classic press release bullets in 10 seconds – who, what, where, why, when? The bones of the story are the essentials, and once these have been delivered you can flesh it out.

Step 4

Now comes the detail: embellish your pitch with interesting info and quirks, the more unusual and obscure (read: memorable) the better – as long as it’s genuine and not gimmicky. Journalists can spot gimmicks a mile off.

Step 5

Ping, your 60 seconds are up – but you’ve said as much as you need to. Have you nailed it? Course you have, just like Caruso did back in the 90s.

Looking for a good example?

Watch our 3 minute video example video on what makes a good elevator pitch, and how to structure yours.


Emma Cripwell

Consultant for Roxhill Media and Publicist for The Pig Hotels


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