Perfecting the Pitch: Lessons from Jimmy Fallon’s Newest Intern

March 27, 2017

Boring is clearly not a word in Jake Sirianni’s vocabulary – the Washington State University communication student made news headlines this week in his quest to become Jimmy Fallon’s next summer intern.


Instead of turning in a standard application and cover letter, Jake created a video of himself inspired by Daniel Radcliffe’s 2014 “Alphabet Aerobics” rap spelling out all the reasons why he’d make a great addition to the team. The video went viral on social media, quickly getting the attention of Fallon himself and landing Jake with a one-way ticket to New York City this summer.

This story caught my attention for a few reasons. As a WSU alum myself, I was incredibly proud to see a talented Coug set a big goal and knock it out of the park. As a PR professional, Jake’s efforts seemed like the ultimate case study on how to execute a perfect pitch. Whether you’re trying to place a big story in a coveted news outlet, selling your boss on a cool new program, or bringing in new business to your agency, remember these proven pitching tips:

Know Your Goal
In order for your pitch to be successful, you first have to know what you want to get out of it. In Jake’s case, his end game was obvious – but it’s not always so clear. Do you just need an interview? Do you want to land an exclusive story? Perhaps you’re looking for the chance to get in front of a potential client’s CEO? Once you have a definitive idea of what the goal is, you can figure out all of the ingredients you need to go out and get it.

Personalize the Pitch
Reporters, coworkers, and clients alike want to feel known, so there’s nothing worse than a generic pitch that could just as easily have ended up in someone else’s inbox. Sure, it’s not exactly practical (or appropriate) to write a personalized rap each time you make an ask, but taking ten minutes to do some research works wonders. Do your due diligence and find out the basics about your target audience – what are they an expert on? How do they interact on social media? Would they appreciate a little humor? This little bit of effort ensures your pitch will take the right tone and that you can make the best of any personal connection that might be there.

Be Creative
PR, like television, is a creative industry – which means you won’t get anywhere by doing the same thing over and over. If you’ve already done your research, you should have a good idea of the level of creativity you can get away with. Don’t be afraid to try a new medium – a video, infographic, or social media post might be the thing that sets you apart from the horde of others vying for your audience’s attention. Get stuck? Call Jake – he seems like he’d have some ideas.

Take a Risk
I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it was to push “publish” on a project bound for the eyes of high-powered TV execs. The fear of rejection is always powerful, but this situation is proof that risk and reward are directly related – nobody has ever succeeded without having a little skin in the game. Take a deep breath, have a little fun, and know that you’re capable of great things!

Do you have a particularly successful pitching strategy? Share it with us!


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