When I launched my first entertainment podcast in 2011, I knew I wanted guest interviews. I figured booking celebrities would be difficult since I was just starting out. Plus, people weren't going to know me or my little show. However, I took steps to make myself look professional and it paid off. Next thing, I knew...I was getting people on every episode. Here are some of my strategies that can help you book guests (whether they're celebrities or not).
Know where to look
If you're booking an author on your show, check their Amazon listing. You'll see the name of the book publisher, and you can reach out to them. It's also possible that an author (or any guest) will have their own website with posted contact information. If you're trying to find the agent/publicist/manager for a celebrity, services like WhoRepresents can be helpful. Just know that sometimes the listed information might be outdated, and you might have to do a little extra research. Sometimes it's possible to reach out to a guest via Twitter or Facebook message as well.
Write a professional and concise request
When you send an email to make your pitch, get to the details quickly. Tell the recipient what you want to talk about, how long it will be and how it will be conducted (phone or Skype). Be sure to give them a time frame in which to schedule the interview. You might also add that you will let them promote anything else they'd like to mention on the show.
Do some research on your guest
A little extra research on a guest can go a long way, and it could be an important key to getting them on your show. Maybe you are reaching out to an actor, but you find out they just launched a music CD. You might be wanting someone who wrote a popular book, but you also find out their extremely passionate about a specific charity. When you find out details like these, you can offer to mention or promote them on your program. You can also offer links on the show notes. Knowing a little more about a guest can be very impressive. It shows that you cared enough to learn more.
Research can also be a key factor in the quality of your interview. If you take time to watch other interviews they've done or read articles about them, it can help you develop unique and insightful questions. By watching previous interviews, you might be able to avoid questions your guest has already answered several times.
Develop a track record
Before I really started to reach out to publicists, I wanted to be able to show them other interviews that I conducted. Fortunately, I am friends with two actors who starred in Hollywood films. So, I had the advantage of calling them and asking them to be on the show. I then went to a small comic convention and conducted interviews there as well. That way, when I reached out to book someone else, I could list those people as guests.
This is a credibility strategy. A guest or their representative might wonder about associating their name with a show they don't know. However, seeing that other credible people have been guests can put them at ease.
No matter what type of podcast you produce, it's good to go for the more accessible/lesser known people and develop a track record. Then highlight that history as you go for the big names.
Make sure your website looks great and is easy to navigate
Another way someone will check you out is to take a look at your website. If it's disorganized, hard to navigate and loaded with grammatical errors, that can be a problem. Make sure your website is part of your professional pitch to a potential guest.
Have two phone numbers to offer
Sometimes you will call the guest, but other times they may want to call you. When this happens, it's good to be able to offer them a toll-fee number. You can link a toll-free number to your home/cell number easily with services like Kall8. When radio shows book guests, they not only offer a call-in number, but also a back-up. This can be your home or cell phone number in case they're not getting through or there's some other technical issue.