10 Essential Tips for Landing a Radio Interview

As the producer of a major market radio show, I get at least a few dozen pitches for interviews every day. Some are excellent, while others are almost immediately dismissed. Why? There are a few essential qualities of great guest pitches that cause them to get noticed. Here’s a peek at some tips for getting selected for a radio interview:

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•  Get a good publicist. Every type of broadcast media has its own culture and insider network of professionals. That means trying to get noticed on your own is an extremely difficult task. There are a handful of incredible publicists out there that know industry hosts and producers. They’ve developed relationships with us based upon trust and credibility. Why not tap into this resource? It’s definitely a worthwhile investment.

•  Send email pitches wisely. The best pitches I receive are personalized. It’s obvious when someone sending a pitch knows our program, and the types of topics that would interest us. Over time, these individuals gain our respect and trust. When they send a pitch, we pay attention. But the opposite happens more often than you’d think. For example, I work for a Christian radio station. I can’t tell you how often I get pitches for guests that have absolutely no faith angle. I also regularly receive pitches for guests that want to talk about celebrity gossip or the grand opening of a new night club. Seriously?! Take the time to research specific programs and hosts before sending them a guest pitch. It takes longer, but you will reap the benefits.

•  Name, credentials, and proposed interview topics should be prominently placed in a pitch. We all live in an age of information overload. That said, an effective pitch allows for quick access to essential information. That means multi-paragraph dramatic introductions aren’t necessary. In fact, they can become a distraction. Get right to the point. A first glance should enable me to quickly identify the guest name, their credentials and the proposed interview topic. If it takes too long for me to identify essential information about a proposed guest, I just delete the email.
•  Consider offering talking points as part of a guest pitch. What unique concepts or angles do you have to offer? What separates you from everyone else who can speak on a particular topic? A few quick bullet points describing provocative or compelling things you have to say can provide me with an efficient means of evaluating you as a guest. Be succinct and direct, and you’ll increase your chances of getting noticed. For more information, I wrote about talking points in a previous blog.  
•  Credibility matters. Whether you like it or not, established credibility is essential to landing an interview. We need to trust that you won’t embarrass us, and that you’ll offer our audience compelling information. This makes it difficult to get attention if you’re new on the scene. That said, be sure to take time to clearly communicate your credentials. Whether it’s education, expertise or unique perspective – ensure your credibility is quickly evident.
•  Endorsements matter. You may be relatively unknown. But with proper endorsements, this won’t matter. There are many individuals and organizations out there that have risen through the ranks and established solid reputations. Use these names and reputations to your advantage. Work diligently to get high-quality endorsements for your ideas or your product. This will enable you to overcome your own lack of name recognition or established reputation.  
•  Don’t leave guest pitches on a voicemail message. As communication technology improves, voicemail becomes even more of an annoyance. In the fast-paced world of broadcast media, listening to voicemail guest pitches just takes too much time. And to be completely honest, most voicemail pitches are a few minutes long. That means I delete them before they’re finished. Phone communication for guest pitches should be avoided. Only use a phone if absolutely necessary after a guest is already booked. Email is the best means of communicating with a program.
•  If you wrote a book, send a review copy to a program host or producer. You don’t even need to ask for permission. Just send it. Having the actual book in our possession makes it easier to evaluate the ideas you’d like to share. A great cover, clever title, and credible endorsements can quickly draw us in. In addition, if we decide not to schedule an interview on your book, you may still get the benefit of publicity. We frequently receive books that won’t fit for interviews on our show, but would serve as great on-air or online giveaways. That means your name and your book will be talked about in front of thousands of people. So, make it a point to strategically send out review copies of your book.
•  Don’t send e-books, unless they are specifically requested. E-books are fun to read, but not to use as a means of evaluating a guest for interview. Storage space on my tablet and my phone are very limited. I have space on my computer, but quite honestly I don’t want it cluttered with e-books that I don’t plan to read. It’s still better to send a printed review copy of a book.
•  Gracious persistence works. There’s a fine line between persistence and annoyance. I have great respect for someone who graciously writes a personalized follow-up email about a pitch they previously sent. But I become quickly annoyed with anyone who aggressively presses me for an answer. I also tend to ignore follow-up mass emails that are sent to a large group of recipients. If you want to get noticed, take time to personally, graciously and strategically follow-up with a targeted list of programs.

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