Show Your Work: Guide To Pain-Free Pitch Reels

How can you shift the odds in your favor when it comes to preparing for the dreaded pitch? Check out our guide to building pitch reels to share winning work with the world.

A Tradition Stuck In The Past

Let’s face it: the traditional agency pitch is a drawn-out, sprawling, cumbersome process that has made its way into all aspects of creative business development.

From selling agency services to proposing high-profile campaigns; from bidding on big commercial production projects to placing new talent – in every creative endeavor, agencies, boutique firms and reps dutifully invest time, creative energy, and resources into frustratingly rigid dog-and-pony shows.
And talk about rigid: according to pitch consultancy ID Comms, today’s agency pitch process has been in place since the early 1990’s. In other words, “most consultants’ pitch templates are older than the internet.”

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic when accelerated changes swept through so many other industries, these archaic processes still remained in place, keeping agencies tied to stagnant and unproductive methods of developing new business – while the rest of the world raced ahead.
Basically, we’re stuck with the traditional pitch.

The Creative Cost

Yes, the process is rigid and time consuming. Yes, the average agency surveyed in industry report The OUCH! Factor™ spent 22.2 days’ worth of staff time last year on each pitch they entered (equal to one employee working one full month per pitch – 11 times a year).
And sure, the odds of winning the pitch after all that work are around half, according to the same research. It couldn’t get any worse, right? Wrong.

New studies have shown that the traditional pitch process actually undermines the core strength of an agency or commercial production company: your creativity.

“We’re meant to be in the business of creativity, but the focus has shifted,” says MullenLowe Group UK’s Lucy Taylor in a Campaign Live article from March 2022, Resetting the pitch process and bringing the soul back to adland.

Pitches can be very stressful and lead to burnout, posing a serious problem for clients, who require an ecosystem of dynamic agencies doing great creative work, which is “the lifeblood of our industry,” says Andrew Lowdon from ISBA, the trade body representing advertisers, in Marketing Week. After all, says Jemima Monies of adam&eveDDB in the Creative Salon, “New business should be a means of nurturing talent, rather than draining it.”

How can you shift the odds in your favor when it comes to preparing for the dreaded pitch?

The Agency Reel: The Win Before The Pitch

Consider the common, basic criteria clients use to determine the fit of any agency— essentially, the admission price for you to compete:
you understand the clients’ business, the vision, their immediate need · you have experience in their industry you’ve got a recognizable roster of previous clients you’ve got the right mix and level of capabilities you’ve shown you can personalize your solution to them

With one creative reel done right, you can prove to your prospects that you possess all these characteristics, before you invest valuable hours into a pitch.

A good reel will help pave the way into a prospect conversation, while leading with proof points they care about— giving them confidence to include you in the brief.

Better yet, a reel will allow you to learn earlier in the process (even before the competition begins) whether the client feels you’re a good fit. Then you can determine whether to continue to invest, or weed out the clients that aren’t a good match, and, instead, pivot to the next important project.

What’s important to note is this: the best reels reflect the specific client who’s watching it, and demonstrate what you can do for their exact needs. That airtight resonance of your work with the client’s needs is what gives a reel the best chance at hitting every one of their initial criteria.

Sizzle On Demand?

Of course, every client is different. That means the best reel you can use is one that’s customized for each client. And creating custom sizzle reels professionally can get very expensive—up to $10,000 per minute of finished video, or more in many cases.

And that’s the conundrum: on one hand, a reel made just for the client you want to pitch will be far more effective, and ultimately win more of the right clients for your agency or firm. On the other, it’s risky, involved, and expensive to professionally create a bespoke agency reel each time, when you have no idea whether you’ll land the project.

If you’re going to engage with multiple prospects while trying to beat The OUCH! Factor™ odds, it makes sense to scale your reel-building capabilities internally. Doing this will allow you to conduct business development proactively and more swiftly when you want to get ahead of the pitching cycle; reduce the expense and time of customizing every reel; and most importantly, increase the “at bats” your reps can get for you with as many clients as you can handle.

Best of all, with the right tools, it’s possible to build reels quickly with the people you have in place (whether internal talent or outside reps), using the content you’ve already created. Just make sure the tools you choose have what it takes to hit all the right marks with clients.

Agency-Friendly Requirements For Reel-Building Tools

As a secure and highly customizable media management and reel sharing solution for 1,500 creative companies around the globe, Wiredrive has had marketing teams, agencies, and commercial production businesses as our customers for more than a decade. Our customers have called Wiredrive one of their favorite solutions for making custom reels – and the software includes a complete set of features designed specifically for this capability, called Library.

We’ve examined the usage of hundreds of Library customers and categorized their reel-building requirements into three major themes. Keep reading for the specific features you should look for when considering your own internal solution for custom reels.

First Things First: Streamline Steps

Every additional process it takes to get from your content to your finished reel is another obstacle between you and your potential clients.

Think about all the disparate components involved in delivering a video show reel today—from cataloging and finding all the pieces of content you want included, to getting them from where they are into the right format and location for production, to designing a template to showcase them – and look for a solution that eliminates steps all along the way.

Connection To Asset Catalog

Everything starts with the assets. Since the reel is your resume (tailored, of course, to your prospect), you’ll likely draw from the entire library of your creative work as the source of raw materials for the final portfolio. Why not use a presentation tool that connects directly to those assets?

Instead of having to start from scratch and think about “Wait a minute, was that on Vimeo? Do we still have that in storage?” choose a solution that doesn’t require people to take the media out of one system and move it, transfer it, or send it into another system.

When you have a library of all your final finished work, already uploaded, cataloged, tagged, and easy to find, you can easily use it as the back-end of your media source and then wrap a show reel around it.

Consolidation Of Multiple Tools

Most agencies and production teams could be using up to a half dozen or so different tools to present and share their work. Anything from downloading media from their company Google Drive to creating Keynote presentations that link to Vimeo videos, to collecting everything in a video site like Wistia, and even creating custom websites to host pitch reels.

Not only does this involve a multi-step process to collect assets and deliver a polished reel, but it also means paying a half dozen monthly fees for different tools—along with the multiple storage costs across those tools.

Find a front-end solution that consolidates a lot of discrete tools that don’t talk to each other, and instead contains everything in one platform that handles each task, all collated together. Otherwise, you end up paying for that many vendors, and taking on the administrative overhead of the fragmented landscape.

Keep Things Simple

This is the next major theme: you want tools that are simple enough that anyone who needs to can create a reel when prospects need to see one. And “anyone” could even mean your sales reps who have a prospective client on the line that wants to see something right now.

Your responsiveness alone—along with your quick-turnaround capability of a beautiful presentation—will make a strong impression from the start.

Easy for Non-Designers

If most of the people pitching your services are natural-born salespeople, not natural-born designers, one requirement to look for in augmenting your in-house reel capabilities is the ability to create impressive-looking output without being a professional designer.

Prebuilt templates, customizable design themes, and drag-and-drop presentation building are valuable features that any presentation software should have. The further ability to simply plug in the desired asset and have it “just work” saves many nail-biting hours otherwise spent struggling with incompatible file formats, complicated editing software, and painstaking adherence to creative guidelines.


If there’s any caution around allowing reps and other non-creatives to build effective agency reels, it’s that you have clear standards for external-facing presentations, fixed guidelines for what they should look like, and a reluctance for people to simply make their own and go off-brand. After all, that’s a recipe for what should be a captivating portfolio to turn into Myspace really quickly. Regardless of whether your staff and reps are creatively gifted or visual newbies, ensure your solution can be deployed under a model of brand control. Set up templates that do fit the model, and then that template can be applied automatically to hundreds, thousands of presentations that get sent out for all the things that you do.

No Code Platform

It’s worth mentioning that bringing the tools for reel-building in-house doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs additional tech skills (or a new hire to manage the solution). Many small companies would contract with a web development firm to create bespoke client branded web pages, but then the agency would still need to figure out how to get them the assets they need, how to ensure client assets are secure, how to specify the correct analytics. It truly is cost-saving, complexity-saving, and time-saving when the platform doesn’t require staying up to date on technology skills.

Embrace Analytics

Posting a sizzle reel on YouTube could show you the number of views, daily trends, and so on, but with the right tools you can gain enough knowledge over time to know in advance whether your pitch will have a chance.

Reporting And Insights

How powerful would it be if you could eliminate uncertainty around the business development process? To have insight about whether your reel was viewed (or wasn’t), the knowledge of how widely it was shared, and potentially, even the confidence to determine whether you’ll be selected?

Make sure the solution you choose has enough data reporting built-in that you can make better, faster, and more effective decisions about the presentations and reels you’ve sent out.

It’s one thing to check the basic box of “So oh, could you use a Google Analytics code and put it on the web page where the video was shared?” But it’s another to be able answer questions around, for instance, how much media was viewed by your recipient. Was only a short clip viewed and then the window closed, or did the recipient stay engaged enough to view the entire reel? Was it shared with other people? In what time span was it viewed?

All of these types of insights can signal interest, consideration, and urgency of a decision—or it can indicate that your creative efforts should be spent on the next promising account. Find a solution that helps you make better, more profitable decisions.

Make Your Next Pitch A Fast One

The agency pitching process isn’t going away anytime soon. But with tools that let you quickly put your prospective clients’ vision front-and-center – using the beautiful work you’ve already created – you can get on the shortlist, and possibly even short-circuit the distance to a winning pitch.

Wiredrive Library puts your entire media vault at your fingertips. When all your assets are so readily available to your team, you can empower your stakeholders, sales and marketing teams to easily create and send video reels and multimedia presentations of finished work, to help present your work effectively – and win more pitches with less pain.

Want To Learn More?

Discover why agencies and commercial production companies have found that Wiredrive by EditShare makes a difference in their pitching workflows.

Check out this case study to find out how Australia-based video agency New Mac became more efficient at responding to business opportunities, and improved how they present themselves in those opportunities.

EditShare’s video workflow and storage solutions power the biggest names in entertainment and advertising, helping them securely manage, present, and collaborate on their highest-value projects. To learn more about how EditShare can help your video production team, contact us today.