Clients and prospective clients often come to me with a very short wish list for the media they’d like to get:
As in, The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Before Ellen, the short list was Oprah.
Who wouldn’t want to be on Ellen’s show? The comedian, like Oprah before her (whose syndicated talk show ended in 2011), enjoys massive viewership by a devoted audience. Ellen’s audience trusts her – they’ll buy any book she recommends, any product she endorses. And she’s not above giving unknown talents their first blast of national exposure.
But first, you should know a few things about the show:
- Ellen is not a product or book peddler. Ellen’s a comedian whose mission is to entertain her viewers so that they keep tuning in. Like any medium, the bigger the audience and the more engaged they are, the more money is made through commercials and other revenue generators. So Ellen and her producers are very careful about inviting guests they feel confident will resonate. There’s a reason the show has won 36 Daytime Emmys!
- Don’t call her – her producers will call, or email, you.* Ellen and her producers, like others in media, often find potential guests in … other media! That includes social media. When they see someone with something they like, they contact that person. (Cute kids have a big advantage.) This is a particularly important point to remember as you read my tips below.
- Seeing a guest similar to yourself on the show does not mean it will be easier for you to be invited on. Sadly, it actually makes it harder. Part of the appeal for shows like Ellen’s is surprising the audience. The first time a particular type of guest appears, that’s a surprise. The second time, it’s not.
All that being said, it’s not impossible to get on Ellen’s show. But first you’ve got to get out where she – or her producers – can see you.
Remember, they’re canvassing the media for fresh and interesting faces, voices and perspectives.
Here are a few ways to give yourself a shot at it.
- Start getting local publicity. Ellen’s show features a lot of human interest stories. One way producers find them is by scouring local newspaper and TV news station websites for unusual people and stories from all over the country – the spunky mom-and-pop shop built on the ashes of disaster, the homemaker whose quest for grocery money has turned her into an e-book phenom, the guy whose dog dialed 911. Publicity starts locally; many of those national headlines you see got there the same way – editors scouring local news media for riveting stories.
- Share your story on social media. Producers are also searching YouTube and other social media sites for videos and content that are getting lots of likes and shares. I recently read a post written by a guest blogger, Joel, on Ask Your Dad. The writer shares how he posted a video of his young daughter on YouTube, shared links to it on several other social networking sites, and got an email from an Ellen producer requesting a phone interview. Ultimately, dad and daughter did not get on the show, but they came close!
- *Check out the “Send to Ellen” tab on the show’s website. This is the exception to the “don’t call us” rule. The Ellen show solicits all manner of material from its website. Do you know someone who needs a new car? Tell their story in 1,500 words or less. Are you part of a military family or know a military family with a story to share? How about a Pinterest failure tale? If you submit a story, make sure you’re genuine. Don’t flood the site with contrived stories – you’ll likely get flagged as a person to be avoided. If you have local publicity that helps to document your story, be sure to upload it. It will help persuade producers that you’re the real deal.
If you take time to look at what makes you different, to identify your unique story and craft it in a compelling way, you’ll have something to take to your local media.
And that’s the first step on the yellow brick road that leads to Ellen.