How do I get on Oprah?

BY TJ Walker

This is a common question I get from authors, experts, and other industry leaders (though not from CEO or executives at major corporations). I always ask them back, “Why?”

They look at me as if I am crazy, as if I asked them why it is preferable to be rich and healthy versus poor and sick. But eventually they mention that they believe if they could just get in front of Oprah’s large TV audience, then they would become a bestselling author, their products would get into stores and fly off the shelves, they would be discovered as the next great healing guru etc.

So I ask them “so what you really want is to be able to communicate with a large audience through the media and to build your own fans, clients and customers, right?”

“Yes,” they admit.

While the intent in both situations is similar, the differences in reaching a goal like being on Oprah versus reaching millions though the media are quite different.

OK, enough dodging, so how do you get on Oprah?

The number one way is to be an incredible interesting TV guest on scores or hundreds or even thousands of TV talk and news programs in local markets around the country and on other TV networks. Nobody at Oprah was ever fired for booking Bill Clinton or Bono. You don’t have to be as famous as those two either. Perhaps you have the greatest clothing line ever that caters to women who are pregnant with twins and you have a moderately successful store in Iowa and a thriving website store. The way to get on Oprah is to go on every TV station in your town, then in your state and get articles about yourself in print, radio, TV and internet sites.

You do this to build a name for yourself and to get good on TV!

Oprah doesn’t really want to be your first—she likes people who don’t clam up out of fear because they’ve never been on TV before. Oprah and her producers are like executives at all huge and wildly successful corporations—they want to minimize risk so that they can stay wildly successful. And that means selecting guests who have already proven themselves to be good on TV.

The absolute best way to get on Oprah is to become a well-known expert in so many other media outlets that Oprah’s people hunt you down to call you. If you can’t wait for this to happen, then you should send a letter explaining what you think would be an interesting story for Oprah’s audience and how you might be helpful to that story (please note I didn’t say send a letter telling the producers how great you are and why they had to have you on.) Don’t waste time telling the producers how much you love Oprah—for goodness sakes, everybody loves Oprah! Send info about yourself that includes other stories that have been written about you and send video of yourself where you are a guest on other shows. Don’t call or send new pitches every day or even every month. But do contact the producers again if you don’t get a yes the first time. Keep doing it until you get on.

Here’s the thing, you might not ever get on, but if you follow my advice, you are reaching your goal anyway because you are continuing to go on every local TV and radio show, and every regional show and every internet radio show and every other media outlet you can find. You reach is growing; your fan base is growing; your brand is growing.

At some point it won’t matter to you if Oprah calls which is probably the time when she will call.

OK, I hear some of you want to bypass all of that. You have an idea for an invention you cooked up in your basement. You’ve never been in the media before even one. You’ve seen other complete unknowns make their first TV appearance ever on Oprah and 30 days later they were rich, famous and driving Rolls Royces.

Sure, it has happened, and some people win the lottery too. Do you waste money buying books on how to win the lottery? I hope not.

I think by now you get my point: you should not have the goal of getting on Oprah. Your goal should be to get in front of millions of people on a regular basis, while suing the media, in order to reach and help as many people as possible. If you work on that consistently then you can accomplish all of your dreams, with or without Oprah. Either way, your odds will be much better than a lottery ticket buyer.

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