How to get a famous guest on your podcast

Have you ever wondered how to get a famous guest on your podcast? It’s challenging enough to convince the average person it’s worth their time, but setting your sights on A-list names can be a big challenge. The more famous, the more requests on their time. There are a handful of strategies that will increase your chances, though.

Big-name guests don’t get big listener numbers

Before we dig in, it’s important to understand why you want a big name on your show in the first place. Rookie podcasters assume if they get a big-name guest, the subscribers will roll in. But as one who has amassed an impressive list of guests, I’ll save you the time: that won’t work. The chance of them promoting your show is slim. Even if they do, their promo won’t get the engagement you think it deserves.

Adam Savage Tweet performance

Famous guests are constantly being promoted in various publications and forums. If you interview them, they’re not as excited as you. For you, this means they won’t promote your show on their channels. Even if they do promote your interview, it’s still unlikely to get engagement because their followers hear from them constantly. Getting a “click” from their audience is the result of a truly unique interview.

I had the opportunity to interview Adam Savage of Mythbusters, who was kind enough to retweet. Of his 1M+ followers, only 68,000 people saw it and 30 people clicked the link. Yikes.

If you want a guest to promote your show and have any chance at getting clicks, make sure to ask questions no one else has asked them and do an interview they will never forget. My generic “check it out” tweet didn’t give any indication of value to his followers, so it got crappy engagement.

Howard Schultz and Andrew Yang shared my interviews with their networks because I asked unique questions they rarely had the opportunity to speak about. Both told me this at the conclusion of the interview.

I tell you this so you don’t have unrealistic expectations. Growing a show takes years of hard work and consistency. Generally speaking, it doesn’t happen from one big interview.

If this all makes sense, here are a few strategies I’ve used to get some fairly large names on The Justin Brady Show.

Ask with clarity

To get a famous guest on your podcast, make sure you’re providing pertinent details—this is easy to forget. During my stint on terrestrial radio, the regional director at iHeart Media asked why I was getting big-name guests while bigger shows were having trouble. Comparing notes, it was because I was the only one asking with clarity.

Other hosts were emailing contacts with an interview opportunity mentioning the station name only. They were making an assumption the guest or their comms people were familiar with the station. Bad move. The station was well-regarded across the nation, but there are so many media entities these days, most people can’t know the data.

When I reached out, I explained our influence, why I wanted them as a guest, and what they could expect. That made the difference. For your podcast, share why you want them as a guest, who your subscribers are, how much time you’ll need and where the show will be published. If you have some impressive numbers, tell them! Numbers and data alone can get a famous guest on your podcast.

Whatever you do, when attempting to get a famous person on your podcast, ask with clarity.

Use a media company to get your foot in the door

This is where most of my big-name guests came from initially. When I was writing for The Washington Post, I interviewed dozens of high-profile guests. When it came time to publish my articles, a lot was cut, so I later went back to these guests and asked if I could interview them. I explained I was doing an independent podcast to capture their incredible insights. They said yes. Writing for a reputable publication opens doors.

The best way to write for a reputable publication is to build a relationship with the proper editor at that publication and pitch them a high-value article for their audience they can’t refuse. I recommend using the FART method to help you craft the perfect email pitch.

Obviously, you have to demonstrate proper background, do iron-clad research, and be persistent, but it will eventually happen for you if you stick with it. When you write for a well-regarded publication, their credibility instantly rubs off on you.

Tap your connections. (ALL of them)

Courtney Reum, partner at M13, has worked with Pinterest, Lyft, Ring, Bonobos and SpaceX and one of his big tips for growth is to obsessively take advantage of your unfair advantages. Contacts are an advantage. If you don’t think you have any connections or contacts, you’re probably wrong.

Does anyone in your family have some connections; do your friends or professional network? There’s a good chance you are connected to some people who can make an introduction to get a famous guest on your podcast via social media or even through your local sphere of influence.

LinkedIn has made connecting with people easy and even shows who in your contacts may know the big-name guest you are interested in having on your show. But don’t forget professional business groups or even regional chambers of commerce. I know that sounds insane, but you might be a bit surprised how connected a business group of 15 or more people is. People love being “the guy” who is seen as connected, so ask. If you know why you want a particular guest on your show, they may jump at the chance to help. Dozens of guests on my show came via mutual friends.

Be persistent and wait them out

The first time I reached out to get Daniel Pink on my show, I was a rookie podcaster and he knew it. So, he issued a kind of challenge: if my show was still around in 6 months, he’d come on. Looking back, his offer may have been one of the reasons I kept going on my show. Thankfully, I’ve now interviewed some of the most incredible guests in the world on The Justin Brady Show. You should *cough, cough* subscribe.

Persistence is important. Not all guests will say yes the first time you reach out. But if you keep reaching out with good reasons why (and you’re kind) you might be shocked at how many times you can turn a “no” into a “yes” and get a famous guest on your podcast.

When you do get a rejection (you will get plenty), make sure to reply positively, accept the decline and mention you’ll reach back out in 6 months.

Show them your excitement

Even if you have no real value to give, there’s still a way forward. To get a famous person on your podcast, sometimes all it takes is to show your passion. For many big-name guests, a great strategy is to show them you’re aligned with their mission and vision.

Many big-named guests will be more likely to accept an interview request if they see you’re trying to promote what they care about. It could be pet adoption, ocean plastic or theological interests. Whatever the topic, if they see you as a kindred spirit, it increases your chances of booking them. To get a famous guest on your podcast, it may only require telling them you share their passion.

Produce a professional show

If you want to do this professionally or make a living, read my article on how to start a company podcast. It’s the longest guide on podcasting I’ve ever written. It even has links to all the exact equipment I use to sound polished, like the Heil PR 40 and…. cheap moving blankets? (Seriously) Read it »

The podcasting motherload

I’ve written a lot on podcasting, so if you want to know how to make your voice sound good, how to figure out how many subscribers a podcast has or 5 mistakes keeping people from subscribing, I encourage you to stick around.

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