How to be a Great Talk Show Guest – and How You’ll Benefit
Sometimes people are surprised — OK, dumbfounded — when I explain that they shouldn’t pitch their product during their radio talk show interview.
“What?” they say. “Isn’t that why I’m on the show??”
Show hosts don’t want to sell your book, product, or services. They want to provide information and entertainment that keeps their listeners tuned in and paying attention. If you get on a show and pitch what you’ve got to sell, you’re a commercial – not entertainment. And that’s the fastest way to get your interview cut short or killed entirely.
So what’s in it for you?
Being interviewed on a talk show:
- Positions you as an expert in your field.
- Gains you (and your product/company/book) the implied endorsement of mainstream media.
- Puts your name and the name of whatever you’re selling in front of a large audience.
In return, you give a great interview with useful information, educated opinions and entertaining anecdotes shared with friendly enthusiasm. That way, the talk show hosts keep their listeners tuned in, which helps them sell all those commercial spots – you know, the ones people tune out.
The best way to ensure you have a successful interview is to forget you’ve got something to sell and work your marketing efforts around the goal of being the perfect radio guest. How?
- Don’t position yourself as an author or executive. Instead, position yourself as an expert on your topic or your industry. Sell only your depth of knowledge and your ability to help answer key questions about some aspect of your topic that may have been in the news recently. For instance, a realtor can talk about escaping foreclosures. A stockbroker can talk about how to manage your own portfolio. Experts on just about any topic can look to the newspaper and find stories related to their expertise. Find that news story and shape your media pitch around it, and include the fact that you have expertise in the field.
- Engage the host. The host is your most important audience. People are usually fans of particular shows because they’re interested in what he has to say, so if you can engage him, you will engage his audience. Talk candidly and openly about your topic in relationship to the current events surrounding it. Make sure your advice is honest as well as conversational, and try to be as natural as possible. Listeners will be able to sense whether your interview is genuine. But don’t worry about entertaining them; entertain the host.
- Don’t sell. Stay on topic during the interview, and when appropriate, mention the free material on your website that could benefit the host’s listeners. If you engage the host, give a great interview and offer helpful information, you don’t have to worry about selling anything. The host will do it for you. He’ll make sure his audience knows you’re an expert, he’ll share your website’s address, he’ll mention the name of your book or he’ll talk about the value of your product. He’ll do the promotion for you.
- Have a website that does more than sell your product. If you are an author, provide free “tips articles” that explain your topic or your viewpoint in an informational manner. If you’re selling a product, create free reports or articles for your site that lay out the problem your product solves, again, in an educational tone.
With your great interview, you can drive radio listeners to your website in a non-commercial way that doesn’t make you sound like a carnival barker. The host appreciates you not sounding like an infomercial and urges his loyal audience to visit your site. If you’re really good, the host may even ask you back again.
And you achieved all this simply by resisting the instinct to “sell,” and focusing your efforts on helping the radio host offer listeners a good show!