5 Unusual Secrets to Getting Booked On Oprah

I recently interviewed former Oprah producer Karen Melamed of  Mediawise Consulting (www.media-wiseconsulting.com), about how to get on Oprah and other top television talk shows.

The interview was amazing. Karen, and her business partner, Barbara Wellner, were both informative and extremely entertaining.

(By the way, that’s exactly how YOU should be if you want to appear on Oprah.)

It was a two hour interview filled with unique ideas and specific examples as to how  you can grab a producer’s attention and get selected to be a guest.

There’s a ton of material—but a few things they said were particularly surprising:

1)   Don’t start at the top. You don’t want to pitch Oprah—she rarely is the one who books her show. Don’t even start with the executive producer. As Melamed says, “The executive producer is in charge of 300 plus people and she’s got bigger fish to fry than worry about booking you.”

If you want to get booked on Oprah, or any top TV talk show, start with the associate producer. It’s their job to find guests. If they like you, then the associate producer pitch  the producer. The final step is when the producer pitches the executive producer. According to Melamed, “That is how it works at least on Oprah and on most talk shows.”

2)   Pitch as many associate producers as you can. This may seem counterintuitive, but Melamed says a secret to getting booked is to pitch all 48 associate producers: “People will say to me, ‘Which of those 48 should I send to?’ I go, ‘All of them . . . Nobody talks to each other. They don’t even know that the other person is getting emails.’ ”  Like literary agents when it comes to publishing, you just need to intrigue one associate producer with your pitch to start the ball rolling.

3)    Your Google page rank matters. If Oprah producers are  looking for a new expert for a show they’re booking, for example, on parenting, they turn to Google. And they’re just like everyone else – they start at the beginning of the search engine results. So the better your position, the more likely they are to book you, especially if you haven’t been on other  major shows.

4)   An interesting photo on the back of your book makes a big difference. It doesn’t matter whether you’re famous or not, or whether your book is traditionally published or self-published. You’ve got to have a photo on the back. “If there is no picture we go, ‘Well, this one must look like Sasquatch because there is no picture.’ ”

And when you take your picture, show some personality. Melamed said she gave a book more attention when the author’s photo was more relaxed and didn’t look like a typical real estate agent’s picture.

5)  Getting in two kinds of newspapers will give you a leg up. The best newspaper you can possibly be written about in is USA Today. “Every producer takes the first section and the Life section and reads it cover to cover for the next big thing.” But if you can’t get into USA Today, try the local Chicago papers—as well as those in the suburbs. Those are the papers the producers get at home. “So we probably read that one a little more carefully,” says Melamed.

But the biggest surprise of the entire call was personal.  It reinforced the idea that you never know who’s watching when you’re on television. I mentioned my appearance on Fox and Friends several years ago,  where I talked about the presidential candidates, and Melamed said “I remember when you said, ‘How do you trust them if they won’t even be honest about their ghostwriter.’ I remember that hook.”

If you want to hear or read the full interview, which talks about the nuts and bolts of coming up with a hook that works, what you need on your Web site to impress a producer, and how to find out who those 48 associate producers are, go to www.AgentUniversityProgram.com

The full interview comes as an unannounced bonus with Agent University, the 6 CD set I give away for fr/ee. (There is a nominal charge for shipping and handling.)

Oprah and Schmitty the Real New Yorkie at her show in NYC

Creative Commons License photo credit: emilydickinsonridesabmx