How To Find Great Guests

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(By Tim O’Brien) In our first year of podcasting, we’ve interviewed authors, doctors, sports agents, marketing pioneers, veteran communications professionals, the creator of the emoticon and even a Nobel Prize winner.

For our purposes on the Shaping Opinion podcast, these guests fit perfectly for what we’re trying to do. But keep in mind, growing audience is not the only thing we’re trying to do. The podcast is part of a branding program for my corporate communications firm, so it’s as much about building that identity among some key target groups as it is getting someone from Kansas City, Missouri to become a subscriber and regular listener (Thanks, Steve!). With that in mind, I thought I’d throw out some tips for you if you’re struggling with finding the right guests for your podcast.

Know What You’re Trying to Achieve with Your Guests
Are you relying on guests to generate audience? Is it just about quality content and programming? Are you working to build your presence in your industry or community by getting to know and network with your guests? Are you trying to create a brand by building an association with your guests?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself as you seek to clarify your goals when it comes to the role guests will play to the success of your podcast. Chances are, you’ll find that there will be some overlap in some of these goals and you’re not just trying to do one thing.

Where to Find Them
If your goal is to find guests with large social followings, the best place to start looking is on social sites. Who do you follow? Who do the people you know follow? Look at their lists of followers and the people they follow. It may take hours, but as you do this, you’ll actually be processing in your mind your own criteria for what makes a good guest.

If you’re not worried about their social followings, look for people who appear in media you consume. Anyone who’s been quoted in an article, or interviewed on TV or for another podcast is a potential guest for you. Another good place to look is PRNewsire.com. That’s a news release site that churns out news releases every day. You might find a news release that could inspire a topic for an interview, and somewhere on that news release is a PR contact you can call to schedule an interview.

The publishing houses are also great places to go if you’d like to interview authors. Every major book publisher has a PR operation that is in place to book authors and many are very receptive to podcasters.

How to Secure Them
When you approach potential guests who are in demand with other media as well, it’s not enough to simply tell them you have a podcast and ask if they’d like to come on for an interview. Make sure to let them know up front that you’d like to invite them on for an interview. Then tell them your podcast’s name and what it’s about. Tell them who your audience is, and what you want to talk about.

Tell your prospective guest what it is about them or their organization that drew you to them and why they would be a perfect fit for your podcast audience. Then give them a quick overview of your interview format, and make sure to tell them on what podcast channels you can be found. The more the better.

What approaches have you used to land some of your best guests? Let us know at @PodcastBJournal and @ShapingOpinion.

Tim O’Brien is the producer and host of the Shaping Opinion podcast and the founder of the Pittsburgh-based communications consultancy O’Brien Communications. He can be reached at 412.854.8845 or timobrien@timobrienpr.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. PerfectPodcastGuest.com is a great source for finding guests. Very detailed profiles on each, including an indication as to their social reach and much more. We use it all the time.

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