Choosing podcast guests is a delicate art form – one that requires a lot of crucial decision-making and a dash of hand-wringing on the side for good measure. This anxiety manifests doubly so when you’re dealing with celebrity guests. There’s a lot of consideration that ultimately goes into making the call to even invest the time into trying to get a celebrity to come on to your podcast. Tracy Hazzard runs down the dos (and don’ts) of having a celebrity guest for your podcast. It all boils down to this – how much will it really help you down the line?

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Celebrity Podcast Interviews: How to Choose the Right Podcast Guests That Helps Your Show

This is one of our client coaching call topics and we’re going to talk about celebrity interviews. Will celebrity interviews help your show? Will it hurt? How do you get them? We’re going to go around that. A lot of people think that getting a celebrity on their show is an absolute magic bullet. If I could get so-and-so to be on my show then I am going to have tons of listeners. I’m going to hit a million downloads. All of that is going to work out for you. For those of you who have been taking interviews already, you know the incremental progress from even doing people within your niche, people who are extremely relevant can be a lot slower than that. Celebrities may not be all that different for you. That being said, there are some highlighted exceptions in the group.

Celebrities who start their own podcast do extremely well, but they put money behind them. Whoever is sponsoring them is putting a lot of money behind promoting their show, bringing them forward and into the marketplace and getting them subscribers and listeners. It’s not just on the celebrity name that it is they’re doing a lot of advertising and marketing. It’s not enough to have them on your show. It can bring much-needed credibility if there’s a fit. Let’s talk about some of the criteria that I go by. If I have a celebrity that I want to bring on the show and I’m thinking about them and I’m thinking about, “Is this going to help bring me, listeners?” The reality is I don’t want to just tap into any celebrity. I don’t want any Kardashian. I don’t want someone who has a million followers. I want them to be the right followers for my show at the end of the day.

If they’re not, if I have got a health and wellness podcast, I don’t want someone who isn’t an absolute influencer in addition to being a celebrity in the health and wellness world. It’s Jillian Michaels you want on your show, something like that if you’re in the fitness arena. Thinking about who you want that is the right fit who’s going to bring not only credibility of who they are in your industry so that celebrity is going to transfer authority to you. Remember, whenever you are the host, you have a higher authority than anyone on your show. They have invited guests. You have the authority. Own and believe that because if you’re going to do celebrity interviews, you’re going to have to maintain that level of integrity, control, and curation for your audience. That’s why choosing your celebrity wisely is important.

That’s my number one thing is that I want to make sure I’m choosing someone who’s going to add credibility from the industry to me being associated with him or her. At the same time, it’s also going to make sure and bringing relevant important information that isn’t a bunch of sound bites they could get from anywhere. That’s the other problem with celebrities. They’re everywhere. They’ve been interviewed on tons of different shows, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, back when whoever is new. Ellen has interviewed them. Whoever interviewed them, they’ve asked them questions. They’ve gone deep into these things. Your job is not to ask them the same questions that everybody else asks. Your job is to bring whatever is extremely relevant to your audience and your show back to them. When you can do those things, get high authority and a relevant undiscussed bit of information matched to your show topic, you’re going to keep your audience engaged. They’re going to share the episode with others.

That celebrity boost is going to start to happen, but it’s not going to be a viral spike. It’s very rare that that happens. How can it happen? WTF, Marc Maron’s podcast made it. It got put on the map by the fact that he had Obama on his show and he never had a president before. In this case, he was a candidate because he was still running at that time. He never had one on a podcast before. It was a new medium which was interesting. Everyone was covering it. It was picked up by every news media outlet that President Obama had done this show. That’s what got him on the map. It was not the actual interview itself. The interview was quite to get. It was quite a coup to get that interview, but it happened to be matched with what the publicists and the new media that they were out there looking for. They were out there looking for something grassroots and something like that. That’s why it worked.

Choosing Podcast Guests: Pick a topic guest is actually really passionate about something that they don’t get enough coverage talking about.


Thinking about how you can find that person, let’s say you have a podcast on recovery and know someone who’s not very vocal about it, see if you can get them to come on and talk about it. Maybe it’s time for them, it’s right for them to talk about this and they want to. Health issues or other things that they don’t talk about often. More importantly, it’s a hot topic and extremely important to them. We have a celebrity in LA that I work with and he is passionate about ADHD, ADD, autism, and all of that in children. He will do anything. All of that arena of behavioral and mental health disorders that happen in children is extremely important to him. He will talk about it at any chance that he gets. Does he get to talk about it on air? Not very often. Not when you’re doing a five-minute bit on Entertainment Tonight or something like that. He doesn’t get to talk about what he loves to talk about. Inviting him on to be able to talk about something that he’s so passionate about, his social good enterprise, something that’s close to his heart, that could be your inroad if it’s a match to your show and makes a difference for you.

That’s one of the best ways to get in this, to make sure that it’s matched to something that they’re personally passionate about and that they don’t get enough coverage about. They get enough so that you know about it and it’s important to them but not so much that that’s something that they get to promote and talk about enough. That is why they’re involved with the organizations that they’re involved with. It’s why they’ve devoted themselves to that social good because they care about it. If they can make that happen, then you may be able to get them on your show.

Let’s talk about some ways to reach out to those celebrity guests because they’re not as accessible, or are they? First things first, my number one thing is you must do a lot of research. You want to make sure that you’re researching heavily enough about the celebrities to know that you’ve gone behind beyond the surface, beyond their Wikipedia page or their IMDb page. You’ve gone deeper into that. You want to make sure you’ve gotten details on where they are, what are their social profiles. Go and check through them. If you read their social profiles, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, wherever they are, you’ll be able to tell a distinct difference between the one that they participate in and the one that’s crafted by a team. For instance, you can tell the difference when we post on Facebook about our episodes and you can clearly tell that’s not my voice. When I post on LinkedIn though, there’s a deep opinion, very opinionated statements that are made there, viewpoints that are a lot deeper, things that make you read the article, not just touches on the topic because that’s who I am.

I go deep into a subject and then glean out insight and I share that insight with my audience. I’m a LinkedIn person. I’m not a Facebook person, so that’s where I share it as well. Keep in mind that you want to make sure that you get them where they are. I did an interview with someone on the Secret Life of Weddings. The hosts of the Secret Life of Weddings, they got someone on their show by reaching out through Twitter and being funny. He was a comedian. They knew his daughter had gotten married. They reached out to him and they bonded over that and had this funny conversation on Twitter and then made a private message and asked to have him on their show. He did it because they establish that rapport. They commented on things. They made him feel good about the funny things he was posting about his daughter’s wedding. They paid attention to things that mattered to him. They built a rapport and they knew he was there making those posts. It was not a media team.

You don't want someone who has a million followers. You want them to be the right followers for your show at the end of the day. Click To Tweet

That made a huge difference in them being able to reach out and get them on the show. That, in and of itself, could be your way as well. Don’t go straight for the ask, but do ask because if you don’t ask, you’ll never get there. Go in with building a rapport of interest in that person. People are flattered by the fact that you’re interested in what I’m interested in. We bond over that even if it’s superficial, online and social media. There’s a little bit of bonding over a commonality. It’s a human trait. Make that happen. When you’re there, then build that into the ask. That’s the power of it. If you don’t ask, it’s never going to happen. If you don’t know what media team they have, you don’t know how interested they are in reaching their core audience. When there’s a deep match between you and their core fans, they don’t want to disappoint them either. If they can make that happen, they will.

It’s a scheduling nightmare. All I can say to you is to be extremely flexible. Whatever it takes up and your day, don’t miss your daughter’s recital but beyond that, try to make sure that you’re as flexible as possible to make that interview happen because it’s important to you. If they give you a time, you take it. You show up. You’re early. You do everything you need to do to make sure that it goes extremely well. These are some things that I’ve gleaned from this over time. One of the important things that I have done over time is by doing deep research, I can find that first question. That first question is what’s going to bond you in these celebrity interviews because they do tons of these interviews and they’ll program it in. They’ll call it in. They’ll do a sound bite after sound bite. You have to get through those layers of things. I tell this story frequently for different reasons.

I interviewed John Travolta on a red carpet somewhere at an event and I was shocked that they wanted me to interview John Travolta because I write a column for Inc. Magazine on innovation and product development. I didn’t understand what that had to do with making movies or with anything that he had to do. However, I knew that he loved to fly and he was a big proponent of that. I thought maybe he might have an understanding of the fact that 3D printing was up and coming in aerospace at that time. It was going to change the way that parts and supplies were made in long maintenance in remote areas. I thought maybe I can ask him and I could work that into an article in addition to some general questions. I went with the general questions first, got programmatic answers. In fact, it turned out if you read the story that I tell elsewhere that I got the exact same answers as to other people who were writing articles and doing interviews. It was like a memorized script. I couldn’t use that.

Luckily, I did ask him about the 3D printing thing as my last question. He had no idea at all what 3D printing is. I had to explain it, but as soon as I said, “Supplies and remote areas, no waiting for replacement parts,” he jumped on board. You could see the passion. He lit up and he starts talking. He was excited. He gave a very exciting answer if this helps the younger industry popping up and more things popping up and making aerospace popular again. He was all for it in whatever way. If it improved the costs and maintenance of planes, he definitely was for that. This is what he says to me, but he was lit up in a totally different demeanor and I hit a hot button for him. I guarantee you, if I had known enough about the aerospace industry, I’m sure he would have kept talking to me. I’m sure he wouldn’t have moved on the line at that moment if I could have asked another question. This is where you build rapport.

Doing the deep research and if it’s core and in your expertise, which that was not, there will be a mutual respect that will happen and they won’t cut you short. I have done interviews where they went way longer or their team is trying to pull them out of there and they’re like, “No, I want five more minutes here.” They know that my audience and their missions are matched. When you can make that happen, you can make for a very successful interview. That’s where the final thing that happens when you get a celebrity interview which is your goal all along was you wanted it to boost your show and the numbers. In order to do that, you want to make sure that they share it because if the PR team does their typical share and it doesn’t happen personally and authentically, their audience knows it.

When it is shared authentically and personally, they’re excited about it and they share it out and they’re like, “I had so much fun on this interview. We did some cool things. You guys have got to listen to this show. This host is off the chart,” that’s what you want is that reaction. They lived in the moment that you having conducted an amazing interview where you showed such deep respect and interest in their interest. It translates into great interest for your audience. All of those things together, they share it and you truly have the boosts you were looking for. All of that is going on for you and that’s the way that you can make the most about it.

Choosing Podcast Guests: You want to make sure your guest shares the episode personally because if their PR team does their typical share, the audience knows it’s not happening personally and authentically.


One last thing that I want to touch is that there’s a distinct difference between a celebrity and an influencer. An influencer is not at a celebrity level at all. They’re in the business of influencing, meaning that they become a health and wellness influencer. It doesn’t mean that they became a celebrity through some other method. They were on television and became a celebrity or they were an expert in fitness like Jillian Michaels. She started doing more television and got a TV show and became a celebrity. That’s the process there. An influencer can become a celebrity but they are not a celebrity, to begin with. Influencer strategies are something completely different. It’s more of a business model strategy than celebrities. Celebrity is a popularity boost. I’m being associated with someone who loves aerospace by getting John Travolta on my show if I had an aerospace show.

These are the kinds of things that you’re looking for. You’re looking for the celebrity boost that matters. At the end of the day, everyone’s like, “If I could get Oprah on my show. If I could get so-and-so on my show, I’ll have it made.” You won’t. It’s not any different than the guests you’re getting right now in some respects. It only is great if you can make it work out great if it’s a direct match if their audience is a match and if they genuinely share it, then you can make it great. There’s no guarantee that their followers are going to become your followers. They follow them for various reasons. They love their movies, TV shows, products and some of the things that they do. They don’t love everything about them. They may not be as passionate about their health and fitness or about their social good enterprise. They may not have that match-up. Just because they have millions of followers and fans out in the world doesn’t mean that that will translate to your show in addition. Their fans are also used to them hawking stuff.

Choose someone from the industry who's going to add credibility. Click To Tweet

Think of the Kardashians. They’re used to them hawking stuff left and right, so they don’t have that same value of it. They will automatically associate the fact that it was a paid spot, that it’s a sponsorship of some kind. They assume that anyway, so you have to be cognizant about it. Is this worth the effort for you? At the end of the day, if the content is so exciting to you when you can’t wait to talk to this person, your audience is going to be excited about it too, that’s a value. That’s worth pursuing. If you are simply doing it to boost your numbers, you’re going to be sadly disappointed in the end. I have seen it work out very rarely. That’s my take on how celebrity interviews may or may not help boost your podcast.

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