‘The Pitch’ competition coming to Pittsburgh area

Written By Kayla Snyder, Copy Editor

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Students from Point Park University and other colleges across Pittsburgh will compete in a competition to earn the opportunity to work with some of the largest advertising firms in the city during the Pittsburgh Advertising Federation (AdFed) pitch event.

The annual competition is set to take place on Oct. 6. The event, referred to as the Pitch, gives 60 college-level juniors and seniors the opportunity to compete in teams of six alongside the most prestigious advertising agencies around Pittsburgh to address a client challenge.

About five years ago, the Pittsburgh AdFed decided it wanted to do something to bring the real world of advertising into the lives of prospective employees, namely college students, according to public relations and advertising professor Robert O’Gara. AdFed resolved that schools should not be working against each other, but working together.

Students from local schools such as Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquense University, LaRoche College, Penn State and more are split into six different teams and assigned to a specific agency.

“We group [the students] into teams and we put them physically in agencies and we give them a challenge that they have to solve in one day,” Rebecca Senneway, Pittsburgh AdFed Board of Education director, said of the event.

Once put into teams, the students will go to the locations where the well-known advertising companies are located and spend the entire day working together to come up with a solution for the client challenge. At the end of the challenge, teams must present their “pitch” in both written form and in a recorded video format to the non-profit client.

The top two finalists will present their pitches again on Nov. 11 and the winner will be invited to attend the Advertising Awards to receive recognition.

This year’s event non-profit participants include Brunner, Chemistry, Garrison Hughes, Gatesman and Dave, MARC and Red House.

PRSSA President Maggie McCauley attended the Pitch last year and worked with Gatesman and Dave. McCauley is also the PR coordinator for the Globe.

McCauley and the other teams worked with the nonprofit organization GirlsHope which houses girls from underprivileged families or neighborhoods and provides help and resources such as educational assistance and mental health resources. McCauley said her client presented multiple objectives, but that is not always the case.

“They could come in and say X, Y, Z and lay it out for you, or it might be a case where you have to make quick decisions about what you want to do with your plan,” McCauley said. “Those are skills you learn in that day.”

Although her team did not win the Pitch last year, she said it was a great experience and it helped her in terms of a career search.

“I do have that document from our IMC plan that I take to interviews with me to show that I can work in teams;  I can work efficiently; I can work effectively and in a timely manner,” McCauley said. “Employers have been really impressed with that.”

Senneway says that the Pitch is a win for both sides of the spectrum. The nonprofit will have six proposals to choose from and the students will gain real world experience.

“[The students] get to meet these high level, creative executives and get an insider view of being in an agency which gives them an advantage when they graduate and are looking for a job,” Senneway said.

O’Gara also stressed the importance and the overall purpose of an event like the Pitch. He said it gives students an experience that a classroom can’t.

“It’s as real world as you can get because that’s what agencies are doing all the time,” O’Gara said.

Registration for the Pitch is still available. Interested students can go to the Pittsburgh AdFed website and submit their $35 fee, which includes lunch, and then register for the event. Space is limited and is on a first-come-first-serve basis.

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