- Alice Draper is a publicist who cold-pitches her coaching clients to podcasts for exposure.
- Her clients have been on "WorkLife With Adam Grant" and Kara Loewentheil's "Unf*ck Your Brain."
- She suggests getting personal, using a narrative hook, and outlining your credibility in your pitch.
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A few years ago, I transitioned from freelance journalism to running my own public-relations business. A big part of my work now includes cold-pitching my clients who work in the coaching industry as guest speakers on podcasts.
Clients seek podcast interviews for brand awareness, building authority, and boosting sales. Last year, one of my clients told me she made more than $6,000 in sales as a result of guest appearances on podcasts. While most of my clients are in the coaching realm, podcasts can boost people in multiple industries.
The benefits of a guest appearance
I recently had a marketing executive from an online publication ask me to pitch their editor to podcasts for backlinks to improve the site's search-engine-optimization ranking. 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 its podcast listeners had taken action as a result of podcast sponsorship, and guest appearances on podcasts can wield the same power. A podcast appearance also leads to networking opportunities, new thought leadership, which can be shared on your website and social-media pages, and greater reach to share ideas.
My clients have spoken on podcasts like "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 — they ask guests to pay them to appear on the show — I choose to steer clear of these because I don't trust the integrity and quality of podcasts that do this. I've found that podcast hosts with an engaged and loyal listenership choose guests based on the value they provide to the podcast audience, rather than the short-term financial gains they may receive.
Developing a strategy
Over time, I've learned that pitching a specific angle is a better strategy than pitching generic talking points. The most important differentiating factor between pitches that perform well and pitches that don't is the quality and distinctiveness of the story we're pitching.
To find podcasts you should 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 get in front of corporate leaders, you might find that your target audience is listening to shows like "Coaching for Leaders" or "Hello Monday."
From here, identify the top themes in the podcasts they're listening to, like leadership, personal development, or health and wellness, and the thought leaders in these spaces. Search these thought leaders' names in Apple Podcasts to find a list of appropriate 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 addressing the host by their name.
I also open the pitch with a specific detail about the host or the show: "I appreciate that you highlighted 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 think of creative ways to personalize a pitch. Do you know an old guest? Mention 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're living in an attention economy. Simply pitching your expertise doesn't cut it anymore. One of my favorite techniques is to agitate the reader with a short but shocking scene.
An example is: "Two weeks after reporting an instance of sexual harassment at work, the HR rep informed me that I was fired."
This hook is shocking and alludes to an important topic that's likely to follow.
3. Make it timely
If you're pitching a top-performing podcast, the host's inbox is filled with compelling pitches, and they have enough leverage to be picky about whom they have on as guests. When you add an element of timeliness to your pitch, it adds relevancy. You can tie the pitch to dates and observance months, such as Mental Health Awareness Month for May, or to current affairs, like the banking crisis.
4. List value-driven talking points
An important question that's on almost every podcast host's mind is: What value will my listeners get from this guest interview?
Make this easy for them and list the value-driven talking points you'll discuss in the episode. One example is an actionable framework on how to recover from a toxic job. The goal here is to keep this list as concise as possible while indicating to the host that you will share actionable advice with their listeners.
5. Outline your credibility
If a podcast host is interested in your pitch, they'll want to find out more about you and whether you interview well. Make this as easy as possible by including a comprehensive bio and links to your website, your social-media pages, and any podcast interviews you may have done.
While I've found that some podcast hosts are interested in social-media metrics — and in my experience, smaller podcasts are more interested in metrics than bigger podcasts — my clients who have had the highest acceptance rates didn't have high followings 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 speaking material you have, even an Instagram livestream, that's helpful to include. Many are happy to take on inexperienced speakers who have a compelling story or hook.
Here's the email template I use for all of my clients when pitching them to podcasts:
Guest Pitch: [Insert title example]
Hi [host's name],
I was listening to your podcast episode about [insert topic] and I couldn't resist reaching out. [Personalized line or two about why the podcast was interesting.]
Are you interested in an episode about [insert topic]?
In this episode, I will 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.]
Are you interested in connecting for an episode?
Thanks, [first name]. I look forward to hearing from you!
[Insert your name.]