When I talk with podcasters, it’s striking how many share the same set of pet peeves.
They talk about receiving emails addressed to the host of another podcast and pitches that make it clear the sender scraped together a podcast list and blasted out the same copy to 100 podcasters without confirming whether a single show was a match for their content and audience.
These are the most extreme examples, as most folks know that spamming podcasters is not an effective way to pitch a guest.
But beyond these egregious examples of what not to do, podcasters still have plenty of pet peeves they will dish about when asked.
The worst part is that nearly all of them are simple to correct! You can right these wrongs with your very next guest submission, and see your acceptance rate go way up.
Today, I wanted to talk about the big 3 pet peeves I hear from podcasters, and how you can take steps to get on their good side if you’ve been committing these cardinal sins.
Pet Peeve #1: Ignoring a podcast’s established submission guidelines.
In PR, we learn early that it’s best to email the contact who will be writing your story or producing your segment. If you pitch Refinery29, CNN or your local newspaper, you would never send an email into a general submission form. Not if you want to get a response, anyway!
Podcasts are often a rare exception to this rule, because the vast majority of them are run as side gigs. Your favorite podcast is probably produced with a tiny team for whom the podcast is a very small part of their actual workload.
These teams have to put structures into place to protect the few hours they allocate each month to producing their show, and managing incoming guest submissions is often an area podcasters seek to get a handle on early.
If a podcast has put together a guest submission form, it’s a sign of respect to use it.
At Podcast Ally, we have a policy that blends the best of our traditional PR training with the new world of podcasts — and it works incredibly well!
If a podcast has a submission process, we follow it. If not, we track down the email of the host, booker or producer and pitch the guest to them directly. Anytime they send us back a submission form (they’re not always easy to find), we thank them, make a note and use it for the next client.
Pet Peeve #2: Sending a podcast your company’s boilerplate, press release or galley letter in place of a pitch email.
We’ve had the pleasure of being hired by some of the top podcasts in the entrepreneurial and tech spaces, and in the course of our work with them, our clients have sent us examples of the terrible pitches they get.
Nine times out of ten, what our podcast clients have sent me is a “pitch” email, which consists of nothing more than a boilerplate or press release pasted into the body of an email.
If you’re not familiar with the term boilerplate, a boilerplate is the blurb that goes at the end of a press release to describe a company.
For example, this is the boilerplate from our client Amber Rae’s Choose Wonder Over Worry press release:
AMBER RAE is an author, artist, and speaker devoted to inspiring people to express the fullness of their gifts. Her writing has reached over 5 million people in 195 countries, her public art has spread to over 20 countries, and she’s spoken to and collaborated with brands like Kate Spade, Apple, Amazon, and Unilever. She’s been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Fast Company, BBC, ABC World News, Tim Ferriss’s blog, and more. She lives in Brooklyn and around the world.
This is a perfectly good description of who Amber is, but it is not a podcast pitch!!!
If you are submitting yourself or your client to a podcast, and your email reads like the boilerplate above, please know that you’re committing one of the top pet peeves of podcasters.
You don’t have to take it from us — Unmistakable Creative host Srinivas Rao posted his take on this approach on Medium. Srini actually addresses galley letters, which I would argue are slightly better than boilerplates, and receiving them in place of a well-thought-out pitch is still a MASSIVE pet peeve of podcasters.
The problem with this approach is that it’s clear you didn’t do your research into the podcast, the kinds of guests they like to bring on, or the kind of topics they cover.
If you could copy-and-paste your exact email and send it to a dozen podcasts, you’re not working hard enough to show them what your guest would bring to their audience.
Pet Peeve #3: Not doing your research into what the podcast actually covers.
Researching the podcast and its host is the most important change you can make if you’re not booking appearances.
Think back to what I said about podcasts being side gigs. No podcast host, booker or producer has the time to figure out how you might fit into their feed. If you want to suggest yourself, or your client, to a podcast, you need to put the work in and share what you’ll bring to the audience.
Bringing this point home, I recently polled 100 podcasters on their preferences, and this is the kind of feedback I got back:
Because of the number of pitches we receive, having someone research the show and pitch a timely, appropriate topic is most important.
The biggest reason I don’t book is that I get a lot of generic pitches because I’m a ‘business podcast’ – so people pitch me with generic business guests, which I’m not interested in.
We appreciate when the email is personalized and there is a clear fit for the show (as we also get lots of cut-and-paste emails).
If you would like to be a guest on a podcast, it’s on you to do your research into the show and come to them with content and topic ideas that are a match for their audience and content direction.
If you do this homework, you will set yourself apart from virtually every other pitch that podcast received that day.
It may not always be easy, but it really is that simple.