Getting to know Oprah

According to public relations expert Susan Harrow (, before you can actually expect to get booked on "Oprah," you need to know how to pitch an idea to the show's producers, and do it very well. Some helpful hints: 1. Tape and watch "Oprah." At least a dozen authors, speakers and entrepreneurs call me every year for media coaching or to help them create a marketing plan. The words out of their mouths are: "I want to be on 'Oprah'." When I ask them if they watch the show, 90 percent say no. Part of preparing for success is becoming familiar with the content, format, rhythm and pace of "The Oprah Show". Your first step is to record two to four weeks of "Oprah". Then, sit down in a comfy spot and watch them all at once. This will give you a sense of what's hot on Oprah" for the next few months. (It does change and the key topics are featured in cycles.) Notice which producers (listed in the credits at the end) are responsible for each type of segment. Send a producer information only after you are sure of whom you'd like to approach and why. 2. Pitch a hot topic. Never pitch your yourself, your speech, your product or your book. Instead pitch something that's newsworthy: a pressing national issue, a controversial subject, a problem for which you have the solution, a common myth debunked. Propose a topic that is relevant to Winfrey's audience (controversy, relationships, personal triumph, makeovers) then prove you are the expert on that topic by providing only the information that is relevant to the idea you're pitching. Think about the areas in your personal or professional life for which you're an expert and connect that to a provocative theme. 3. Put together a winning press package. Send your book, along with a pitch or angle page with two or three different ideas, and a paragraph bio highlighting your expertise as it pertains to your pitches. Be as brief as possible. You must be able to sell your idea in one page. Remember "Oprah" producers get hundreds of packages every day. If possible include a two-to-four-minute video of yourself appearing on other talk shows or making a presentation to a group. This will help show the producers that you're a viable guest. 4. Explore the show's website. Winfrey's Web site,, has as much information as you will ever need to get on the show. There, you can review her entire wish list of subjects. She even makes it easy for you with a link called, "Be on the show." You can send an e-mail that will reach her producers instantly. Make your topic relevant in a short paragraph to receive a quick response. Let the producers know that you'd be glad to hop a red-eye at a moment's notice to be a part their show, and you increase your chances of being invited. 5. Create 6 dynamic sound bites. Mark Twain defines a sound bite as "a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense." Sound bites or talking points, are the essential messages you want to convey. Describe out loud the most important ideas, concepts, and points of your book as they relate to the idea you are pitching. These memory nuggets consist of anecdotes, facts, statistics, stories, or something extraordinary, controversial, shocking, funny, humorous, romantic, poignant, moving, or dramatic. 6. Make sure you're blurbable. By definition, a blurb is a very short advertisement or statement about a topic, product or idea. For example, many book jackets have blurbs about the book, or what people have said about the book. The average sound bite on television is 10 seconds, so it takes some intensive practice to say something meaningful about your book or topic in such a short period of time. Practice with a timer until you can speak your message in 10 to 20 seconds. 7. Get booked on local shows first. Even before you consider approaching Oprah with your idea, get practice on your local news and talk shows. This will give you a chance to fine-tune your sound bites so you won't be shocked by the speed of national television. Once you're on the show as a guest you'll have a total of one to seven minutes to communicate your entire message--in 10 to 20- second increments. Once you have a good feel for the rhythm of television, you'll feel more relaxed and ready. 8. Wow the producers with brevity. Remember, the moment you open your mouth you are auditioning. Keep your list of talking points by the phone when you call a producer (or a producer calls you) so you'll be succinct. You will already have rehearsed them so that they sound natural and inviting. Make sure all your points are targeted exactly to the angle you're proposing--making you and your book irresistible on the air.


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John Kremerís Marvelous Book Marketing Strategies

Git-er-Done NOW Book Marketing Tip #11 - Contact Oprah.
Welcome to Marvelous Book Marketing Strategies, a monthly column based on book marketing expert John Kremerís 24-Point Book Marketing Action List, a list John compiled specially for the participants in his Book Marketing Blast-Off seminars. The actions on the list range from writing press releases and networking, to contacting Oprah and getting to know your bankís president. The underlying value of the list may be that it encourages you Ė the independent author and/or publisher Ė to focus on ACTION. As an independent author, self-publisher, or owner of a small publishing house, it all depends on YOU and your ability to GET THE JOB DONE. Self-promotion, guerilla marketing, and effective networking strategies are all vital elements of getting the BUZZ for yourself and your books that lead to SALES.

Each month we list one of John Kremerís Marketing Action suggestions, and elaborate a bit on why itís important and how to make each action happen effectively and efficiently. Prepare to TAKE ACTION, IMPROVE YOUR MARKETING, and SELL MORE BOOKS!

Book Marketing Action Tip #11:
ďContact Oprah.Ē

"Or, if not Oprah, then contact the key media outlet for your book, no matter how large, how unapproachable, or how intimidating it is to you. You have to step out and take the chance sometime. So do it now. Today. Make it a point to contact at least one key media outlet every day. Send them a news release. Send them interview ideas. Call them. Fax them. Email them. Whatever. But start making significant contacts today. Don't put it off."

Getting on Oprah or another big show with his or her new book is every author's dream. For most, it will probably remain a dream, but ya gotta give it a shot, especially if your book has "pitch-ability."

Does your book have one or more of these?

  • Newness: Is it newsworthy right now?

  • Knownness: Is it related to a hot topic, a celebrity, recent catastrophe or big event?

  • Unusualness: Is it really, and I mean really strange?

  • Human Element: Does it tap strongly into human emotion? Not just tear-jerker stuff, but anger, greed, lust, or regret?

  • Visual Element: Does it paint a vivid picture in the readerís mind?

  • Once you've determined your best pitch angle, hone it down to a sentence or two. Make it very easy to understand, and deliver it with confidence and style. Then pitch it, pitch it, pitch it.

    * * * * *

    Previous Marketing Action Tips:

    Tip #1: Develop a 25-Word Key Statement

    Tip #2 - Get Testimonials from at Least Three Famous People

    Tip #3 - Develop a free report and write a news release for it.

    Tip #4 - Write a free report.

    Tip #5 - Talk to at least one sales rep.

    Tip #6 - Talk to three bookstore buyers or owners.

    Tip #7 - Talk to at least one librarian.

    Tip #8 - Talk to at least five other retail owners or buyers.

    Tip #9 - Scout out related titles.

    Tip #10 - Schedule and do at least one radio interview.

    * * * * *

    Other John Kremer links:

    John Kremerís Book Marketing Website:

    John Kremerís Book Marketing Tip of the Week:
    John Kremerís blog: