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Ask Jaron: How do I pitch myself to a new editor?

Ask Jaron: How do I pitch myself to a new editor?

Hey, I’m Jaron, the founder and CEO of Storyhunter. What you may not know is that before I got this awesome office job (my first), I worked for more than a decade as a freelance documentary filmmaker and video journalist, roaming the planet making video stories. I worked mainly for Current TV, TIME, and The New York Times, and specialized in producing videos in repressive regions like North Korea, Pakistan, Gaza, and Iraq. I really love solving big creative challenges, especially involving video production, and so we created this column for you to throw me any question related to the art or business of video production. I’m excited to see where this goes!

This week I wanted to start off by answering a question I’m asked a lot:

How do I pitch myself to an editor I’ve never worked with before?

This is a bit like trying to get a first date with someone you’ve never met. The goal here is to make them as comfortable as possible with you, so they don’t feel any apprehension in taking a chance on you. Whenever I was in talks with a new client, I made sure to do my homework first. I can’t emphasize enough how critical that is. I would watch a large selection of videos they’ve made in the past, and would compliment specific aspects of videos that I liked.

Obsess over the craft of video storytelling and production. Notice the little things that most people take for granted, like underwater audio. Ask the editor how they recorded that audio, got that incredible shot, or that impossible interview. Trust me — they’ll appreciate it.

Sometimes I would even offer constructive feedback on videos that I thought could have been made even better. This proved that I understood them and their brand really well. Then I would point them to work samples that matched stylistically with the editor or brand’s style. If I had specific domain expertise in the story’s subject matter, I would make sure to convey that as well.

Whether you have the official go-ahead at this stage or not, I would always make sure to get on a Skype chat with a new client. Having a video chat to talk through a project is often the best way to show that you and the client are aligned in your vision. This is also a good time to vet them — make sure their expectations are clear! Doing that will save you a lot of time down the line. Prepare a list of questions and make sure you listen carefully and understand their needs. After you’ve listened, walk them through the ideal production, from beginning to end, leading up to your shared vision for a beautiful final project.

Following these steps will give you the best chances of getting that first gig with a new client. But remember, you need to deliver if you want that second date!

Have a question you’d like to ask Jaron, or something to add to his answer this week? Tweet at us (@storyhunter) or send us an e-mail.