A 5-Question Primer for Pitching Podcasts

Written by Cher Hale

It seems like everyone, from celebrities to thought leaders and magazine editors have hopped on the podcast train. With so much upheaval in traditional media publishing, podcasts are a huge PR opportunity for clients and a great storytelling strategy to add into your regular outreach for clients.

According to the 2018 Podcast Trends Report, nearly 77% of people surveyed said they listen to podcasts for more than 7 hours each week and almost 49% said they have purchased an item after hearing about it from a podcast, suggesting that podcast listeners highly engaged and likely to convert into a customer or client.

While you may assume the approach is similar to pitching traditional media, there are key elements and aspects to pitching a podcast host that could make a well-intentioned pitch dead in the water.

So, what’s different about podcast pitching?

Unlike a print magazine with a rigid editorial calendar and long lead time or a website with a variety of contributors, podcasts are typically produced by one company with 1-3 hosts who are looking for a specific outcome with guest interviews. You’ll need to consider if it’s a seasonal show vs ongoing, a potential short lead time of a week to a month, as well as taking into consideration if the show does primarily solo episodes versus being interview-based. The style of pitching therefore tends to be more intimate and you’ll get a yes far more often if you proactively pitch specific elements of your clients story with clear outcomes and results.

The style, format, and production process of the show is up to each host, and that makes the pitch process even more unpredictable. To help you get the best results possible, here’s a quick list of five questions to ask yourself before pitching your clients for shows:

1. Is this show going to make an impact?

To find the shows that are going to give your clients the best results, check a few engagement metrics before reaching out.  For example ,The Apple store is chock full of shows that are no longer running, so be sure to check the date of the most recently published episode. If the last episode was published within a month, you’re good to move forward with the pitch.

As Brigitte Lyons, founder of the agency B Think Forward, always says, the higher number of reviews and social presence shows a better understanding of how to market, which is exactly the kind of person you want to align your client with. Here are a few benchmarks I use during evaluation:

Number of reviews on Apple Podcasts: Ideally, you’ll want to pitch shows with above 60 reviews, anything less than 20 reviews shows a low-level of engagement.

Social activity: Most of my clients want to grow their Instagram presence, so it’s important to see if the podcast also has a strong active presence on Instagram. The podcast hosts don’t have to be Insta-famous (1k is my lowest threshold) but I do want to see a marketing and growth strategy in place from their recent string of posts and stories.

Tip: If the show is based in another country, the reviews will not show up in your US store. To see how many reviews are shown in their country, change the link from “US” to the country code.

Nearly 77% of people surveyed said they listen to podcasts for more than 7 hours each week and almost 49% said they have purchased an item after hearing about it from a podcast…

2. Is there a clear guest submission process?

Many podcast hosts have become used to being pitched, so they’ve set up specific guidelines for how to submit a guest. Always check the podcast website for the specific process. Some have forms for those submitting themselves (and for others submitting on their behalf) like She Did It Her Way with Amanda Boleyn. Others may give you a specific email address to send it to or will direct you to their producer. Beware of going outside the guidelines and losing out on a great opportunity. For example, Being Boss with Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson request zero follow-ups.

3. Do you know a previous guest?

For shows that don’t take unsolicited pitches (this is becoming increasingly common among the bigger shows), your best way in is through a previous guest. Check to see if you know any of the past interviewees or ask your client to check the past interviewee roster for any familiar faces. If you feel comfortable doing so given the relationship, ask for an introduction! Sometimes, you can loop in clients as well. Recently, one client expressed interest in being on a show that I knew didn’t accept pitches, but was able to ask another one of my clients who had been on the show if she’d be willing to write an introduction to the hosts. I wrote up a quick email for her with the talking points so that it would be easy to send over. Within a week, we had booked the show and the client who had made the introduction was happy to have reconnected with the host. Everybody won.

4. Does the show fit the client’s personality?

Metrics alone are not enough to ensure the right fit. Before you suggest your client for a particular show,  make sure to listen to at least 3 episodes and get a feel for the cadence, language and overall style. You want to find shows that are a natural fit for your client’s personality and align with their brand values and voice. You’ll also want to listen for recurring elements like a “top 5” or “guessing game” round so you can demonstrate your awareness of these aspects of the show in your pitch.

Tip: If you’re short on time and want to speed things along, you can literally speed up the audio to 1.5x or 2x speed.

5. What are my client’s best stories for this particular show?

A podcast can be a welcome reprieve from press interviews that get squashed down into just a few sentences as they truly give your client time to dive into her story, challenges, tips and best strategies. To give your pitch some extra oomph, work with your client to develop a few signature phrases, short compelling stories, powerful, qualitative results, mini case studies and more to give the podcast host a clear understanding of just how much listeners stand to learn and be inspired by your client’s story.

Getting your clients booked on podcasts has become an integral way to diversify your thought leadership strategy and stand out in the crowded expert space. By asking yourself these questions before each pitch, you’ll open the door for your client to build strong influencer relationships, attract new, already-engaged fans, and create evergreen content that can help bolster personal and company brands for years to come.

About Cher:

Cher Hale is the director of the virtual PR firm Cher Hale Creative where she specializes in creating and implementing thought leadership strategy for authors, artists, and entrepreneurs. When she’s not writing pitches, you can find her re-watching a Parks & Rec episode or playing with her cat, Totoro. Connect with her at cherhale.com

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