In addition to working with our specific teams all summer, a key component of our internship this summer that really excited me from the start was the chance to create a real pitch for an actual client. Most of us had never pitched original ideas to a client before, let alone knowing that the winner of the Intern Pitch Project would see their work actually out in the world. One of the founders of a new non-profit, Per Diems Against Poverty, Brittany Hodak, came to brief us. She spoke about the cause, where the organization is at now, and where it wants it to go in the future.
We learned that Per Diems Against Poverty aims to change the way athletes, entertainers, and corporate America spend their per diems—the money they are allotted while they travel for business. It turns out, that many of the people who receive per diems are not using the money for food and Per Diems Against Poverty instead wants to get these groups to donate their per diems to help end hunger in America: $1 can provide 11 meals for those in need.
We were tasked with developing a full plan to spread awareness about the organization, get more donors, and increase their partner roster. And the organization planned to implement the winning pitch’s ideas! She asked us to prepare a plan that would answer:
- How can we pitch the idea of donating the contractual per diem allocations of professional athletes, Hollywood actors, and corporate executives to Feeding America food Banks nationwide?
- What professional teams, corporations, production companies, or brands can we partner with to help spread the word about their mission throughout the US?
We were split up into teams composed of interns from our office with different discipline skills to combine forces. Before diving into research, my four team members and I sat down and shared our initial thoughts, questions, and created a timeline of what we should accomplish each week. It was our first foray into the world of New Business.
We decided we would do further background research—learn more about per diems, the targets, and nonprofit organizations in general. Then we thought about what we had learned at Momentum—the importance of the Total Brand Experience—and started looking at the every part of the organization’s messaging and experience.
Our group decided to focus on improving the Per Diems Against Poverty’s social and digital presence and introducing experiential events. We brainstormed individually and then came together to create a master list of ideas. Those ideas morphed through our group conversation, adding more depth to some, and tossing others out. Eventually we narrowed down our thoughts and started to develop a clear narrative to answer the organization’s ask.
When it was time to start translating our plan from ideas into pitch deck, we initially found it challenging to form all of our ideas and events into one clear story. Since this was a project that we worked on daily for eight weeks, it sometimes became unclear whether our ideas would make sense to someone that had never heard them before, someone that wasn’t involved in our brainstorms. It was imperative that one idea led to the next and flowed well in order to portray a clear picture to the client. Being able to step back from our idea and see it from an outsider’s perspective was very difficult, but one of the most important things I learned from this process.
Once we put together our deck, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many Momentum employees wanted to take a look and offer their feedback—the office really cared about our pitches. So many people from different disciplines including New Business, Business Leadership, Creative and more helped us along the way by viewing our deck, listening to our presentation and providing constructive criticism. The best way to learn is by doing, and that became really clear to me as we created this pitch from scratch and then revised, revised, and revised some more.
When it came time to actually pitch, we were tasked to create a short, two minute commercial to share with the clients. We would also be pitching in person to our entire office.
It was such a rewarding 10 minutes for me. The second I got up in front of everyone, my nerves vanished and excitement took its place. After weeks of hard work, having the chance to show the office what we put together and hearing their reactions, opinions, and questions was so fulfilling. Even though at points in the process it seemed like our ideas were all over the place and our direction was unclear and we’d never get it done, having every last detail come together in front of the office that has taught us and given us this opportunity was an incredible experience.
While our team didn’t end up the final winners, that lesson too was helpful. Sometimes we’re going to work hard, come up with great ideas and someone else is going to come out ahead. That’s the life of an agency. However, we were able to look at our ideas, look at what we produced and feel proud of what we accomplished. Our proposed experience was rooted in strategic insights, in human interactions; our plan was influenced by social and technological developments; our planned experience helped people connect with Per Diems Against Poverty and helped the brand do more instead of just say. It represented the best of what we learned this summer and even if we didn’t win the Pitch Project, it was an amazing experience.
Dara Zeltt spent her summer as a Business Leadership intern with the Verizon Wireless team. She is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.