How to get on a podcast, from a publicist pitching clients

  • Alice Draper is a publicist who coldly takes her coaching clients to podcasts for exposure.
  • Her clients included “WorkLife With Adam Grant” and Kara Loewentheil’s “Unf*ck Your Brain”.
  • She suggests getting personal, using a narrative slant, and outlining your credibility in your pitch.

A few years ago I made the transition from freelance journalism to running my own PR firm. A big part of my job now involves cold pitching my clients who work in the coaching industry as guest speakers on podcasts.

Customers look for podcast interviews for brand awareness, building authority, and driving sales. Last year, one of my clients told me she made over $6,000 in sales as a result of guest appearances on podcasts. While most of my clients are in the coaching world, podcasts can empower people across multiple industries.

The benefits of a guest appearance

I recently had a marketing manager of an online publication ask me to pitch their editor to podcasts for backlinks to improve the site’s search engine optimization rankings. If you run a product-based business, appearing on podcasts as a guest can complement your marketing campaign.

An NPR survey found that 76% of podcast listeners had taken action as a result of podcast sponsorship, and guest appearances on podcasts can exert the same power. A podcast appearance also leads to networking opportunities, new leadership that can be shared on your website and social media pages, and greater reach for sharing ideas.

My clients have spoken on podcasts such as “WorkLife With Adam Grant,” “Unf*ck Your Brain” with Kara Loewentheil, and “Negotiate Anything” with Kwame Christian.

While some podcasts operate on a “pay-to-play” basis — asking guests to pay them to appear on the show — I choose to avoid these because I don’t trust the integrity and quality of podcasts that do this. I’ve noticed that podcast hosts with engaged and loyal audiences choose guests based on the value they provide to the podcast audience, rather than the short-term financial benefits they can reap.

Develop a strategy

Over time, I’ve learned that pitching a specific angle is a better strategy than pitching generic talking points. The main differentiator between pitches that perform well and pitches that don’t is the quality and distinctiveness of the story we pitch.

To find podcasts you need to pitch, identify your target audience and the types of podcasts they listen to. You can even poll them directly. For example, if you’re trying to reach business leaders, you might notice that your audience listens to programs like “Coaching for Leaders” or “Hello Monday.”

From here, identify the main themes in the podcasts they listen to, such as leadership, personal development, or health and wellness, and the thinkers in these spaces. Search Apple Podcasts for the names of these thought leaders for a list of suitable shows to pitch.

Here are 5 things to focus on in a podcast pitch

1. Make it personal

The first way to do this is to address the host by name.

I also open the pitch with a specific detail about the host or the show: “I appreciate you highlighting the dangers of weight-loss products in your recent episode. It was informative and highlighted so many of my icky feelings about the weight-loss industry.”

I also like to come up with creative ways to personalize a pitch. Know an old dude? Name this. Did you attend the host’s webinar a few years ago? Tell them this, and if possible mention something specific that you remember.

2. Use a narrative hook

We live in an attention economy. Simply pitching your expertise will not get you there. One of my favorite techniques is to excite the reader with a short but shocking scene.

An example is: “Two weeks after I reported a case of sexual harassment at work, the HR representative informed me that I had been fired.”

This hook is shocking and hints at an important topic that is likely to follow.

3. Make it on time

If you’re pitching a top-performing podcast, the host’s inbox is full of compelling pitches and they have enough clout to be choosy about who they have as guests. When you add an element of timeliness to your pitch, it adds relevance. You can link the pitch to dates and compliance months, such as Mental Health Awareness Month in May, or to current events, such as the banking crisis.

4. List value-driven talking points

An important question on almost every podcast host’s mind is: what value will my listeners get from this guest interview?

Make it easy on them and make a list of the value-driven talking points you’ll discuss in the episode. An example is a useful framework on how to recover from a toxic job. The goal here is to keep this list as concise as possible while also signaling to the host that you will be sharing useful advice with their listeners.

5. Outline your credibility

If a podcast host is interested in your pitch, they’ll want to know more about you and if you’re applying well. Make this as easy as possible by including a comprehensive biography and links to your website, your social media pages, and any podcast interviews you’ve done.

While I’ve noticed that some podcast hosts are interested in social media metrics – and in my experience smaller podcasts are more interested in metrics than larger podcasts – my clients with the highest adoption rates didn’t have many followers, but did have an extremely unique and compelling story.

If you haven’t spoken on a podcast before, it’s still worth pitching hosts and focusing on the quality of your story angle and talking points. If you can link to any talking material you have, even an Instagram live stream, that’s useful to include. Many are happy to hire inexperienced speakers who have a compelling story or hook.

This is the email template I use for all my clients when I pitch them to podcasts:

guest pitch: [Insert title example]

Hi [host’s name],

I listened to your podcast episode about [insert topic] and I couldn’t resist getting in touch. [Personalized line or two about why the podcast was interesting.]

Are you interested in an episode about [insert topic]?

[Story hook.]

In this episode I’m going to talk about:

  • [Topic one: Insert details.]
  • [Topic two: Insert details.]
  • [Topic three: Insert details.]
  • [Topic four: Insert details.]

About me: [Provide a professional and relevant bio here. Include any credible links, such as your website, LinkedIn profile, Instagram page, or podcast.]

Interested in joining an episode?

Thank you, [first name]. I look forward to hearing from you!

[Insert your name.]

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