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Getting on the Radio: 10 tips to a successful talkshow

By Barry Forward
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2004

For many of us, getting on a radio talkshow can be a great tactical move as part of our overall publicity effort. Pitching an appearance on a talkshow begins with much of the same groundwork as preparing for a news release or other media pitch, you need to have a story idea or an angle to present to the prospective radio show. Here are ten basic tips to use if you are considering presenting yourself as a talkshow guest.

1. Prepare a Backgrounder/Fact Sheet: This is particularly important if this is your first venture out into the media. Radio talkshow hosts and their producers need to be assured that they are talking with a credible source. Just saying you are an expert in a particular field is not enough especially if you are somewhat of an unknown quantity.

2. Research the Talkshow: Nothing kills your chances better than approaching a talkshow producer with a topic idea that in no way resembles the style and content discussions normally aired on the show. If you know what type of topics or pet projects the talkshow host usually focuses on you should be able to tailor your pitch to be more in line with their subject matter, and raise the chances of getting on the show.

3. Capitalize on your Experience: Nothing scares a talkshow producer more than the possibility of scheduling a guest with a great topic who once the microphones are open has little or nothing to say. If you can demonstrate any past experience in anything that resembles the talkshow experience such as speaking engagements or lecturing, the producer is more apt to take a shot a your appearance.

4. Find out the best time to call: Selling yourself as a guest on a talkshow is like any other sales call you don't want to call a potential prospect at their busiest time. Unless you are pitching an extremely high budget program you should avoid calling them while the talkshow is on the air. If you can find out when they normally field calls all the better.

5. Ride a News Wave: If the subject area you are considering pitching relates to a topic that is currently in the news your interest to a talk show program is heightened. For example, if you are high tech company that is making money despite the downturn in the economy each time the tech sector is attacked in the media there is an opportunity for you to pitch yourself as a potential guest.

6. Third Party Validation: You might think you'd make a great talk show guest, but is there anyone of your customers or your contacts who will provide a testimonial that supports that notion. "John Smith delivered a speech to our annual general meeting that was both entertaining and informative. We are looking forward to his appearance at our team building sessions coming up in June."

7. Test your Pitch: Once you've decided on how you are going to present your pitch try it out with one of your friends or associates. If you can't get their interest, there is a good chance your idea will fall flat with the talkshow as well.

8. Call first, then FAX: Some PR experts recommend sending a pitch letter first and then following up a day or two after. This works well, but I have found that if you can speak to the show's producer directly, you will be able to sell them on the idea right then and there, as well as demonstrate your ability to engage an audience. Voice mail has made these "cold pitches" more difficult to arrange but it is worth the effort to make the call. If you can't talk to a real person, leave a voice message and then send a follow- up fax.

9. Love your idea: If you don't buy your goods nobody will. Talkshows need content and are constantly looking for compelling people to tell compelling stories. The more excited you are about your project the more likely someone else will be sold on it.

10. Go for it. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Many a good talkshow guest has gone the way of the shower singer. Great idea, good ability to talk, but no one knows they exist. Take a chance, look up the phone number and call them. What can they say? No, or maybe even, yes!

About the Author
Barry Forward is the Executive Vice-President of Reputations Inc. ( and has an extensive background in public relations. He has also launched several campanies, including high tech ventures and products.. You can read similar articles to this on the Reputations Inc website (


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