The Oprah Winfrey Show
1. (also known as Oprah) the highest-rated and longest-running daytime U.S. syndicated talk show. It is hosted and produced by Oprah Winfrey through her company Harpo Productions, Inc.
2. maker of dreams; the holy grail of public relations professionals, authors, entrepreneurs, and individuals seeking exposure for their products, books or services.
One of the most frequent questions we get at eReleases is, “Can you get us on Oprah?”
Short answer: “Yes, in theory.”
Long answer: “Yes, but it is extremely hard. Luck plays a small but important part in this. You have to do your homework. Very few PR firms, even those with lots of experience successfully pitching producers and bookers, can claim to have made it on Oprah.”
While Harpo Productions, the multimedia production company behind The Oprah Winfrey Show and a slew of other talk shows like Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray, receives press releases from eReleases, I am not aware of a single eReleases client who has made it onto the show. A few clients have received calls from screeners requesting more information but the magic moment never happened.
Over the past eleven years, our clients have made it to USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, NPR, PBS, and almost every major newspaper, magazine, radio and television outlet.
Unlike a newspaper which is daily, Oprah only does a couple of hundred shows a year. That’s a very limited number of slots to be filled. When you slash that number in half to accommodate celebrities hawking movies and other projects, you are looking at about 100 opportunities. When you take the political, criminal, and human interest episodes that make up a large block of the show into consideration, what does that leave you with? Maybe a couple of dozen opportunities a year.
Believe me when I say Oprah gets tens of thousands of pitches and requests. A lot of these submissions are from people who have not done their homework. Most are unlikely to make it through a low-level gatekeeper as they promote their ideas, inventions, and products. A large number of them are basing their pitches on emotion:
“This is my life’s work. Please help me out.”
“I need you to promote my product because I’m out of money. The bank has foreclosed on my house.”
“I love my family. They are so proud of me.”
Always lead with facts and then bring the emotion through the story:
“… Not only does this product capitalize on the current social media trend, the fact that one of our users was able to call on fellow members to make a bone marrow match shows just how valuable such a medical networking site can be. Another company highlight includes a doctor who searched our site before treating an unconscious patient to find she was indeed listed and was able to discover what treatments and medications she had been using before being admitted to the hospital. Following the standard course of treatment would have resulted in a deadly interaction.”
Having watched a few episodes of Oprah, I can tell you what makes a person or product Oprah-Worthy:
Hot Topics & Hot Buttons – Oprah is the pinnacle of talk shows. If your product has been around for a while or is just cute, it is unlikely to resonate with Oprah’s audience, which is used to seeing products launched or discovered on her show. Products and books featured on Oprah become hits because they are worthy of being a craze. That seed of breakout success is there from the beginning. Just add Oprah and watch it grow.
A Story – Oprah loves to discover talent with a personal story. This is the magic of Oprah. Every entrepreneur identifies with this small person plucked from relative obscurity. But there is more to the selection process than an entrepreneur’s hope and desire. Behind every person is a story: a beginning, a middle and an end. Have you written your story? Are you ready to pitch it?
Positive Message – A common theme to Oprah’s segments are elevation, often where a person has risen above obstacles to make it to this level. The show is somewhat socially conservative. If you have built a product or service that blurs ethical or moral lines, you will not make it on Oprah. Even being too cutting-edge or risqué severely handicaps your chances. Most humorous elements that make it to Oprah share a good-natured and family-friendly quality.
Feminine Appeal – The bulk of Oprah’s audience is female. A product designed for men will find a harder time finding a home on Oprah’s show. However, you can still pitch such a product by “wrapping” it correctly: “How about my product for a show on great father’s day presents or top holiday gifts for that special man in your life.”
For a more detailed blueprint on how to strike gold by getting yourself and/or your company, book, product or service on the Oprah Winfrey Show, be sure to check Oprah’s section on her website, Tell Us Your Story, where she is looking for guests according to various subjects.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.