Stephanie Schwartz|Sep 25, 2015

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m an avid fan of “Shark Tank.” The ABC show features budding entrepreneurs pitching their business to a panel of “sharks,” who consist of millionaire and billionaire investors. If the sharks like the business and the entrepreneurs, they will invest their own money in return for an equity stake in the company.

Even if you don’t watch the show, I’m sure you’ve still seen the sharks (Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec and Lori Geriner) make appearances on talk shows, commercials, business events or conferences. This is because these sharks know what it takes to succeed in business, and their knowledge resonates not just with aspiring entrepreneurs but also with people across the country.

It’s the contestant’s job during their pitch to impress the sharks not only with their business, but also their personalities. This process is similar to a client/PR agency relationship. In fact, there are several valuable skills and tactics seen on “Shark Tank” that PR professionals can learn from and apply to every day work.

Prepare a Perfect Pitch

The crux of “Shark Tank” is focused on how entrepreneurs prepare a strong sales pitch to convey the value of their business. This is also true for PR pros: We must craft smart, timely and unique pitches in order to grab the media’s attention and show them why our clients are worth their time.

Our pitches must stand out from the hundreds of other pitches reporters receive a day. Some ways we do this at rbb include:

  • Crafting a creative and sharp pitch headline. You want the headline to intrigue the reporter but make it clear enough that they are able to scan it and have an idea of what the story is going to be about.
  • Double and triple checking pitches for errors. We often have team members or managers review and proofread our pitches several times to ensure they are media ready.
  • Removing unnecessary fluff. Many reporters prefer shorter pitches that include your client’s story with all of the essential information they need to know.

Do Your Research

On “Shark Tank,” knowing the background of each of the sharks, including their likes, dislikes, failures and successes, gives the entrepreneurs with a huge advantage.

We’ve previously discussed five mistakes PR pros make when pitching media. Not doing the proper research tops that list. At rbb, we’re always doing our homework to understand reporters’ beats and interests. Building relationships with media contacts is also important and much more effective than cold pitching.

Know the facts

What are your sales?” “What are your margins?” “How did you calculate this valuation?” These are common questions the “Shark Tank” panel fire off at the entrepreneurs during their sales pitches.

Just like entrepreneurs are expected to know their numbers, marketers are expected to know our clients. When pitching media, PR pros must know be prepared to answer even the toughest questions about our clients.

This is why rbb deeply integrates with each client and maintains a stream of constant communication, in addition to monitoring the client’s trade publications and trending news.

Keep your cool

Some entrepreneurs on “Shark Tank” get eaten alive by the panel and are visibly discouraged. PR is known as being one of the most stressful fields in the world; we can understand how the entrepreneurs feel when they’re being attacked by the sharks.

We sometimes come across a tough reporter or crisis situation that seems insurmountable. However, it is important we keep our cool. We know not to make rash decisions and to stay confident in tense situations. Sometimes, that means taking a walk or grabbing a comforting snack from our Inspiration Wall. This allows us to pause and logically handle a nerve-wracking situation.

What other lessons have you learned from “Shark Tank” that may be relevant to PR pros? Let us know in the comments!


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