4 tips to pitch your coworkers an idea successfully even after you’re told no, according to an advertising pro

A woman presents charts during a business meeting
  • Reese Hopper is an author, freelance advertising copywriter, and producer based in Los Angeles.
  • After years of pitching to coworkers and clients, Hopper says he’s learned how to win people over.
  • Prepare your audience before sharing, choose a comfortable environment, and package the idea well. 

So you had a great idea. A bolt of lightning struck your brain, and you couldn’t pitch your coworkers on it fast enough. But when you shared the idea, they weren’t excited. They didn’t get it.

What happened? Was your lightning bolt idea not so electric in the first place? No, you just didn’t pitch it well enough.

Reese Hopper
Author . Reese Hopper

Over my past six years in advertising, I’ve worked with hundreds of coworkers and clients, pitching thousands of ideas for creative campaigns. After a lot of swings and misses, I’ve found four tips to winning coworkers over to your ideas, even after initial rejection.  

1. Prepare your audience  

People aren’t always in a receptive state of mind for new ideas. They could be planning schedules, balancing budgets, or responding to emails — all of which are resistant mind-states for new ideas.  

Before you share your idea, say something like, “I’ve got an idea to share with you about the marketing launch, when you have a minute to hear it.” Then wait for them to tell you a time.  

Brainstorming and ideation takes imagination. Putting your coworker in that frame of mind is essential for a good reception. 

2. Choose the right environment 

The second key to winning coworkers over is choosing the right environment.  Why? Because life is noisy.  

As I write this, I have headphones in my ears, coffee in my system, and a list of today’s tasks rattling around in my brain. If you pitched me an idea right now, I wouldn’t hear a word of it.  

Find an environment that fits the context of your idea. If it’s a risky idea, find a quiet conference room. If the idea requires a favor, meet up by the espresso machine, like friends do. If the idea is long, go out to lunch. Whatever you do, don’t stand in the doorway of your coworker’s office — they’re just trying to get back to work.  

3. Package your idea well 

The third key to getting ideas across is packaging them well. 

The first agency I worked at asked me to compile submission information for all the major advertising awards. I spent weeks on it, finding categories we could qualify for, ads we could submit, and deadlines we’d have to hit. When I finally presented it to the creative director at the end of the day, he said, “What is this? This looks like crap! I have to go home.”

I asked a creative producer to help me design a better presentation. She helped me reformat the visuals more simply, and present the information in a more compelling way. The next time I presented the deck, the creative director pored over every page, added his own submission ideas, and thanked me heartily.  

If your idea isn’t packaged and presented well, your coworker won’t grasp it. Ask yourself: What is the most clear, concise way to get this idea across? The packaging communicates as much as the idea does.  

4. Get to the bottom of the ‘no’

If your idea gets rejected, the next step is to understand the reasons behind the rejection. Ask the necessary questions to make it better next time. Is there a financial constraint? Is brand image a concern? Is there a new strategy? If you can ask these questions (without taking feedback personally), you’ll have the tools you need to get a yes next time.  

Once you’re comfortable with your ideas being rejected more than they’re accepted, you can have a fruitful career in the creative space.

Reese Hopper is a freelance advertising copywriter and producer in Los Angeles. He has written and produced campaigns for brands like Adidas, Capital One, NFL, and many more. Read more on his blog.