Some of the biggest audiences you’ll ever get will be on radio or television. We’d all like to be on a national talk show to discuss and promote our company. But what are your chances? You may have a better chance of winning your state lottery than of landing a spot on such a show. Only the best, the hottest, and the most spectacular will get that chance of a lifetime.
But don’t walk away with your tail between your legs. There’s still a chance to get on the air at the local level, so that’s where to start. Send a letter similar to a press release to the radio station manager or the on-air personality stating that you’re an expert in your field and would be available to be a guest should the need arise. Offer to take calls from callers on your specialty and to give free advice. Question-and-answer segments are very popular with most audiences.
Send your letter to all the radio stations within an area you can get to easily on short notice. Many stations will keep your letter on file and will call you unexpectedly when a news story or publicinterest questions in your field come up. Radio is a great place to start because if you’re nervous, no one can see it except your host, and the host isn’t going to tell. After a few of these spots, and if you know your subject well, you’ll be relaxed and ready to try television.
Television is the big time, where people not only hear your voice, but they also see you, your actions, and your body language. So start small and build confidence in yourself and your presentation. The key to getting on any of these shows is what you have to offer to the audience to keep them engaged and interested. You should preview any material that you plan to use with your staff, friends, and relatives. You don’t want to sound boring, or your time will be cut short, and you won’t be asked back.
Find the best local stations to approach for your target audience. You can look in one of the directories mentioned earlier or check your local phonebook. Many local stations have talk shows on Saturday and Sunday, early in the morning. Contact the show producer—not the station manager—to offer your appearance and availability. Larger regional or national talk shows may monitor local shows to find new and interesting guests they haven’t seen before. For example, Jay Leno has people on his staff go to local comedy clubs to find new talent. If you don’t take the chance
and you’re not there, they’ll never find you.
When you’ve done one or more of these shows, you’ll find it’s infectious—you’ll want to do more. Every three months or so, contact the producers for the shows you most want to guest on, offering a new angle each time. They may use you as a backup for a famous person who cancelled at the last minute, so be ready.
When you’re starting out, don’t expect to be paid or to receive anything other than public recognition. After you become famous and receive many appearance offers, you can negotiate reasonable fees. But publicity itself is usually a big payoff.