This being said, I have seen lots of discussions about pitch contests lately. Clearly there are drawbacks. There are hundreds or thousands of other people participating. Your chances could be up to someone who really doesn't get your work or your voice. Agents or publishers may get caught up in the excitement and then it fizzles out by the time you submit or query.
But there are also great pluses, in my little opinion! You get to join with many new folks in the wonderful writing community! You are able to pitch your work and receive helpful feedback before submitting or querying in earnest. Plus even though there are so many participating you may be one of the lucky chosen! But you can't be if you don't try.
Yeesh I should like my mom. It never hurts to try!
I submitted my pitch into Pitch Madness recently, and I didn't make it into the agent round. I was bummed, but I was really able to work in my pitching skills with PitMad that followed, and I got interest from one agent! I haven't heard back yet, but even if I get my FIRST official rejection I will be thrilled that I finally started the process of trying. I had a completed manuscript for so long, yet it just say there collecting dust. I could be rejected because I wasn't sending it anywhere. But I also couldn't be published that way either.
After Pitch Madness I am a fan if pitch contests. I will be participating in Trick or Treat with Agents, also hosted by Brenda Drake, coming up in October. Check out her blog for more details. http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com/
Also ask my friend Hearher Jacobs for a success story that came out of a pitch contest! http://www.hmjacobs.com/