Last Monday I took the day off for Canadian Thanksgiving while Maxime held the fort. Today I’m speaking to you about booking guests to interview on your podcast.
If interviewing is something you enjoy but you’re having a hard time finding guests or are unsure of how to approach people, I’ll elucidate on some things you will be doing. There’s no easy way around going out there and chasing the people who you want to interview, however I’ll give you some pointers so you don’t feel lost or make mistakes you will regret.
Where do you start? Make a list
Instead of going week to week scrambling for ideas of who you should approach and then trying to contact them, write a list of as many people as you can think of that you want to interview. The more the better. It doesn’t matter what tools you use for keeping track of the guests you want to contact, just make sure that fill it with as much helpful information as possible.
Spreadsheets work well for financial data but they also work well tracking who you want to talk to. In a spreadsheet, my suggestion is to create columns that include the following headings:
- First attempt (the date you contacted)
- Second attempt (the date you contacted)
This will be your database to keep tabs on your prospects.
One thing you will discover is that people have preferred contact methods. Some like email over phone or Skype to give one example. Make a note of which communication method your prospect prefers. I like to colour code the preferred contact method so I can refer back to that later.
Reach out to people
You have a list ready and now will begin scouring the web and social media for contact information. This is not difficult but will require time and effort on your part. The hard part will be getting your prospective guests to respond and agree to the interview.
Use social media
Social media is ubiquitous. As of June 2016, Facebook reported on average 1.13 billion daily active users and 1.03 billion mobile daily active users. For the same month, Twitter reported 313 million active users of which 82% accessed the service from a mobile device. There’s a good chance you will find someone to talk to on either of these outlets.
My personal experience is most low to mid level “celebrities” (I use that loosely) are pretty receptive to speaking with people about what they do. It also gives them a platform to further plug their creative work.
Twitter: Begin with an @ reply and see if you can ask for an interview (you only have 140 characters to do that). Give them some time to reply. If you don’t hear back from them within a week, try a DM (Direct Message) and see if that goes through (this depends on the recipients privacy settings. DMs now have a 10,000 character limit, so make sure to briefly explain why you want to interview them and let them know you’re open to whatever communication method they prefer.
If you don’t hear back within 2 weeks, try tweeting them again. Keep in mind that people are busy. Depending on how many followers they have, they may not even notice your inquiries (my observation is that becomes an increasing issue for 10,000+ followers).
Facebook: It’s an excellent platform without some of the character limitations of Twitter. Creative people (I’ll lump writers, actors, musicians, makers into that term) often use a business page to showcase what they make. Begin by writing a message on their page (seen publicly) and ask them if they would be open to an interview. Remember to mention what it’s for and that you’re flexible to their preferred communication method. Brevity is key (don’t ramble on).
Email, yes email, is still an effective means of communication for an overwhelming majority of people. If social media efforts led nowhere, check for a link to their website from their social profile and see if there’s an email address or contact form. I recall many times where my prospects responded first over email rather than social.
Checklist of things to mention
- Why you want to interview the individual (your podcast about “x”)
- You can arrange to communicate via email, phone, Skype or whatever works best for them.
- Give them an idea of how long you need them (I always say it will around an hour at most)
- If they agree to the interview, be flexible and work around their schedule to book a time
Tips for booking a podcast guest: Research and persistence is key.
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In the coming weeks I’ll be delving into building on your interviewing skills. Hopefully this will provide some valuable information so you can book your own interviews. Please remember that when both parties have agreed and the place, date, and time, you should create a calendar event and also write down in your spreadsheet that the booking was successful. In the aforementioned section regarding making multiple attempts at contacting people, you should not give up if you don’t hear back. If you’ve made a couple of attempts, you can always come back to them later and move on to the next person. Some people are incredibly difficult to reach, but persistence is key. If it takes six months to book your favourite guest, then so be it.
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