Many of our clients are podcast hosts themselves, so we’ve got an inside look at how overwhelming it is to be on the receiving end of countless guest pitches. Some of our clients have even admitted that they’re so overwhelmed by pitches that they don’t often review them anymore.
Can’t say we’d blame them! Our business might be built on booking guests on podcasts, but we also run a business — we know what it’s like to wish you could blow up your inbox and never look at it again.
Don’t do that, though, because in addition to the spam sales emails and marketing messages you don’t remember signing up for, there are also connection requests from folks you may have never imagined working with, and of course, all sorts of messages from your team and others.
Making like an ostrich isn’t the answer — but that doesn’t mean you have to choose between a bummer binary of 1) either opening up and reviewing every pitch you receive and 2) never looking at or accepting another pitch again.
Think of it this way:
What if your dream guest — the one you’ve barely acknowledged to yourself, the one you’d never dare to ask — is in your inbox right now, asking to come onto your show?
I bet if Brene Brown came into your inbox (or her publicist), you wouldn’t want to miss it!
You might dream about making all those pitches disappear, but what I suspect you really want is to make it easy to discern which guests are your dream guests and which you can safely turn away.
So with that in mind, how can podcast hosts make it easier to find their dream guests amongst all the spam?
Create a way to filter your podcast guest submissions from the rest of your email.
Podcast-specific submission forms are a kindness to yourself and your guests. In addition to making sure you get all the information you need), it also communicates clearly to hopeful guests what you’re looking for. (A general contact form isn’t the best way to accept pitch submissions.)
Ask the right questions.
You can also ensure the highest quality pitches by creating a submission form that asks the right questions. It’s not just about their name and email address — you want to ask questions like:
- Why do you want to be on our podcast?
- What topic do you want to discuss?
- How will this topic impact our audience?
- Have you ever listened to an episode of our show? Which one?
- Have you been on other podcasts? Which one?
If the social media following or other metrics matter to you, don’t be afraid to ask! Make it harder for guests to submit, so the lazy ones will be discouraged from applying.
Separate strong submissions from weak ones.
Let’s say you don’t want to interview anyone who doesn’t have a website or won’t answer a specific question. Filter out the submissions where that information isn’t complete, so when you go to review submissions, you’re not considering any that are incomplete.
Ask someone on your team (who isn’t you!) to scan that list for some names that you know you want on your show (because sometimes folks with the highest profile have lazy publicists) and then freely mass-reject them.
Assign a team member to review strong submissions once a month.
Establish a selection criteria based on the content you’re looking for, and create an SOP from it so that any team member can vet potential guests based on those criteria. Once they’ve reviewed each submission, have your team member curate a list of no more than 10-15 guests to forward to you to review each month.
Decide if you want to interview any of the guests on your curated list.
After your team member has created the shortlist of potential guests, decide if you want to interview them yourself — using any criteria that you want! We do recommend creating an SOP or checklist you review each time you look at your potential guest list, just so you’re using the same standards with each review.
If you’re on the fence, ask the guest to put in more effort to sway your mind.
Some of the top podcasts we work with set up a 15-minute “pre-interview” to vet guests and to see if the chemistry is there before they commit to a full interview. This is a great time to ask them a few questions about their chosen topic, see how they engage with you, and if you have an easy rapport between the two of you. You could even send over a question and ask them to send you back a 1-minute audio reply! Make it easy for you (or your team) to make a decision but put the work back on the guest and their team.
Schedule the interviews you want and send declines to the ones you don’t.
Please don’t tell guests that you’re “booked for now” or “keeping their info in consideration” if you know you won’t have them on the show. “This isn’t right for us” works well! Otherwise, you WILL get follow-ups.
Want to book great guests? Let us help.
This might seem like a lot of steps, but once it’s set up, you’re only committing to engaging with guest submissions once a week, and if you have a team member do the initial vetting, this will take less than an hour of your time each month. Talk about removing the stress from your podcast guest process.
If you’d like to remove even more stress, trust our hand-picked guest referrals! We have a strict “no stretch” policy that stops the team from matching a guest from a podcast they don’t 210% believe is a good match.
In addition to providing thoughtful recommendations, we also take care of the logistics that we know can be roadblocks on both sides of the interview. And most importantly: We provide this service to podcasters at no charge.
As an agency that works day-to-day to book our clients on podcasts, we may have folks on our roster who are a good match for you. But we will NEVER send a recommendation to you that we don’t believe is a great fit for your podcast.
Our relationships with podcasters are the backbone of our business, and we are always going the extra mile to suggest people in our networks who aren’t active clients to help podcasters out. It’s very likely we’ll be able to source a great guest for you whether we have an active client who’s a match or not.
Want to get hand-picked referrals for FREE? Start here.