The most intimidating part of starting an interview podcast isn't the podcast itself. It's the issue of reaching out to potential interviewees for your podcast. More importantly, your goal is to get the big names in the business, because let's face it, who listens to small fry?
And this is a primary mistake.
Almost everyone starts out as small fry
When you look at some of the biggest names in the business today, you can track their path in time. Almost all of them weren't big names at one point in time. Not being a big name brand doesn't mean you won't eventually make it. More importantly, there are a lot of people who are unknown but extremely good at getting their ideas across. Nonetheless, big names or small, you still have the issue of writing an e-mail to that person. What are you going to say in the e-mail?
There are a few things you can cover.
Take for example the e-mail I send out:
I've been listening to your podcast for a while. And I really liked the one you did with XYZ. The part I liked the best was when you spoke about XYZ. I do appreciate you doing what you do and wanted to say thanks, but there's also another reason I'm writing to you.
I’m doing a interview series on starting up.
But not just the start up from a few years ago, but delving back in time. The story of your childhood, early mentors, points where things changed dramatically, working their way to the present moment. And then the perspective into your future.
t’s what Jim Collins talks about in the book “Good to Great”where the focus is on the chicken popping out of the egg but there’s no background of the effort to get to that point. This series will be called “7 miles per second” (which is the speed you need to break out of earth’s orbit) and will tackle the long road to breaking free of gravity.
We’ll talk about your successes, the failure, the moments of wonder, and those moments where you just went around in circles for a while. Just a big journey. And of course, that will give enough exposure to your current products/services and the hiccups that brought you to this moment of anti-gravity.
What do you think? Are you game?And here are some dates in late January.
Notice the format?
You're telling the potential podcast interviewee that you're not randomly sending a form letter. Most people who are already well known get tons of form letters and one that gets to the point immediately is always very respected. One that gets to the point with detail, e.g. I listen to XYZ and liked XYZ, immediately tells them you've done some homework.
This puts you in the top 10% of people who write to them requesting interviews. Most people don't do any homework, or rely on some VA to send out tons of form letters. I'm not saying the form letter doesn't work. I'm saying, however, that people who take a little more care get more consistent results.
You're talking about your podcast interview series, but not just about the series. Instead, you're telling the person why it's important to be on this series. Once again you've moved beyond the “let's do a podcast interview” to something that's different. Granted the person may do the interview with you anyway, but if they're a bigger brand name, they're likely to be doing hundreds of interviews over time.
I can't tell you how all the questions seem to merge into one big mass of questions (even when they're not following some pre-written podcast question template). The moment you have a bit of clarity about why your podcast is different, you start off on a much better footing.
Let's not forget why the person is going the interview. They want to talk about their products and services. They want to promote themselves. They know they'll get the usual question about “what's your website?” and “where can we find you online?” Even so, it's nice to say so upfront in your e-mail.
Finally, there's already a link in place. You're not going through the back and forth tango routine. That tells me you've got your act together. In the e-mail above, I even set the month, so they don't have to flip over weeks to find out when I'm free. I only release a month or two of dates at a time and that helps the potential interviewee get right to the month.
I also tend to schedule podcast interviews about a month or more in the future. If you were to ask them to speak next week, it seems rushed. However, everyone seems to have more free days a month or two out from the date of the request (e.g. I sent out the late- January requests at the very start of December).
Let's review the steps again
- Details that you know the person and are familiar with their work.
- The uniqueness of your podcast interview. Why the other person should bother.
- The promise of promotion of their products or services.
- The link to the interview already in place, and ideally in a specific month.
What if you do all of the above and get no response?
It can happen, you know. Sometimes the person is about to do a “Michael Jackson”. They're about to do 50 back to back shows and they have no time. Or there's something coming up in future. You may even get fobbed off to a form, some VA, etc. But remember we're not just going after big names.
There are tens of thousands of people with very valid things to say either through their website, in books, podcasts and webinars.
You're more likely to hit pay dirt with relatively unknown people and still get great content for your podcast interview. What's more is you'll get more confidence with every passing interview. If you simply look for the big names, you're doing yourself a big disfavour. Even so, make sure your request has the elements needed to make a quick decision. Oh, and give them a month or more and they'll usually have time for you.
If all fails, try, try again. It may seem desperate to you but to the person who is at the receiving end, they see it as persistence. It's likely they'll remember you more when it comes time to do the interview itself.
What do you do next?
You plan the interview, that's what. But what does a reasonably planned interview structure look like?
To start at the very beginning and work your way through the podcasting series, go to: How To Start A Podcast
Andrew Finkelstein says
I’m about to interview some people for a book and will certainly adapt your approach – as it obviously works.
Sean D'Souza says
It does, and it if it doesn’t, then tweak it a bit to suit your needs.