If I had a nickel for every client or potential client who asked me if I could get them on Larry King, Oprah, Ellen, Charlie Rose, Keith Olberman, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Ray, I’d have retired long since.
What complicates matters is that there are tons of rumors, stories and urban legends floating around about how someone got on a big show because – and I’ll list these in no particular order:
- They sent the host a gift
- They sent the host a product
- They know the host’s cousin
- They know the host’s maid
- They met one of the producers on a plane and pitched them at 30,000 feet
- They paid a consultant who had an “in”
- They bought a sponsored segment
- They went to a taping and snuck backstage and cornered the host
I can’t tell you that it has never happened; a lot of people have heard the story about how Spanx, a line of what is now euphemistically referred to as “shapewear” for ladies, was named as one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things.” In case you don’t know the story, Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, sent a package containing product samples to Oprah Winfrey’s show office. Now, you could fill the Superdome with all the unsolicited products and books Oprah is sent every year. However, on that particular day, one of the producers happened to notice the package, and being sensitive to Oprah’s very public weight battle, decided to route the package to the boss. Oprah’s resulting endorsement helped make Spanx a household name.
I’m relating that story not as a template of how to get on Oprah’s radar, but rather, as a cautionary tale. In that instance, all the circumstances were right. But don’t think for a minute that Ms. Blakely had pinned all her dreams of success on an Oprah appearance. By the time Spanx was highlighted on Oprah’s show the product line was already in numerous high-end stores, such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and others.
The lesson here is that even though the stars were in alignment for Sara Blakely, you should not risk your company’s success by betting the farm on a single TV show.
That being said, it is totally appropriate to aim for appearances on top-rated shows – that’s the brass ring we all hope for. But, rather than focusing on the urban legends that have worked for “one in a million” like Sarah Blakely, here’s some things you CAN be doing:
- Take advantage of every media opportunity that arises. The more visible you are, the higher your chances of landing on the radars of some top TV show producers.
- Don’t turn your nose up at invitations to appear in smaller venues. They should all be taken seriously…you just never know who is watching and what big opportunities could arise.
- Have as many interviews as possible under your belt and in your “media resume” as this will help you land on bigger shows. Fact: most national TV shows won’t even consider interviewing you unless they see clips where you’ve appeared as a guest so they can evaluate how good you are on camera.
The top shows cherry-pick from the news of the day so I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be in the news where they can find you.