written by
David Hooper

3 Rules for Podcast Guests (and Those Who Book Them)

Podcast Interviewing Skills Mindset Hall Of Shame 8 min read

If you’ve been podcasting for more than a couple of months, you’re likely getting a lot of pitches from people looking to be interviewed. These often come in via the email listed within your RSS feed, which is how this message was sent.

Hi David!

I am the P.R. Manager for a $6 million/year coaching company for Entrepreneurs and seeking opportunities for our CEO, [NAME REDACTED], to speak at.  I came across your podcast and thought this would be the perfect fit!  [NAME REDACTED] teaches on a variety of different subjects and we can discuss what would be the perfect fit for your clients.  I've attached [NAME REDACTED]'s bio for a background on her and her experience.

I would love the opportunity to get to know you better and connect further on this to see how we can best service the business world.

Thank you!


I do my best to respond to everybody who reaches out to me, even if they missed the instructions I have listed on my site about the process of getting on my podcast and the necessary information I need from somebody before I book an interview. I do this because, having been on the other side of a pitch, the “pitching” side, I know how frustrating it can be to have a pitch. I also have a soft spot in my heart for “imperfect” pitches, as I often assume the person reaching out has never actually made a podcast or otherwise has no idea what the needs of a podcaster are or what’s involved in our decision-making process when booking somebody to be a guest.

In short, I’m willing to cover for unskilled people and processes, if I think a story might be there. That’s the bottom line for me – I will do a lot to get a great guest on tape.

But I don’t have all the time in the world to chase down a single guest who might be good. Because of this, I have a process in place to help me efficiently evaluate potential guests.

So I emailed back with a request for more info, sent to me in a very specific way...

Hey, [NAME REDACTED]. Sounds like it might be a good match. Please have her go to https://redpodcast.aidaform.com/guest to get us the required info.


At this point, people who are serious about being a guest on my podcast fill out the form and get me the info I need to make a decision. I then review what they’ve submitted and we go from there.

But that’s not what happened...

Hi David!

Great!  First I need to know about how many listeners do you have, on average, for each podcast?  And how many downloads have you had in total?


I didn’t see this email, before she sent me this followup...

Hi David!

I am following up on my previous email to learn more about if this is a good fit for [NAME REDACTED].  How many listeners do you have for your podcast?

Thank you!


I ignored this, for reasons which I’ll explain below. Then I received a third followup...

Hi David!

I'm sure you're super busy and I apologize to be a bother but I need to confirm that this opportunity is a good fit for [NAME REDACTED].  How many downloads have you had for Big Podcast?

Thank you!

This email was also ignored. But I’m posting the entire interaction here for you, in the unfortunate event you’re trying to book interviews in this way or have hired somebody with a similar booking philosophy. You will also find it helpful in determining which podcasts are important enough to be a guest on.

Podcast Guesting – The Foundation

Anybody booking a guest, whether you’re booking for somebody else or booking for yourself, needs to understand that neither the booker nor the potential guest is in control in this situation once you reach out. At that point, the person with the podcast is in control.

Should you actually book yourself (or a guest) on a podcast, you should also keep these things in mind:

  • The podcaster is in charge of what information is needed to make a guest appearance happen.
  • The podcaster is in charge of how the interview is recorded.
  • The podcaster gets to choose the topic of the interview and which questions are asked.
  • The podcaster picks the time and date of the interview (even if via a limited choice of options given to the guest).
  • Once you approach a podcaster about an interview, it’s you trying to win the podcast over, not the other way around – if you weren’t sure the podcast was a good match for you, you shouldn’t have approached the podcast about being booked.

The last one is why I didn’t respond back to the person above. She approached me, specifically asking for to be part of what I already have going on. I was doing fine without her, so it’s up to her to show me that what she’s doing is a match for what I already have, not the other way around.

The same goes for interview topics. Her offer to talk about a “variety of different subjects” isn’t helpful. Yes, it’s up to the podcaster to pick a topic, but as somebody making the pitch, it’s up to you to come up with (and suggest) something that’s relevant for that podcaster.

3 Rules for Podcast Guests (and Those Who Book Them)

Rule #1 - The Relevancy of a Podcast Pitch Should Be Obvious

I recently had situation where a publicist from a company I know reached out to me a few times about booking a guest who, from everything I saw, wasn’t a perfect match, but did have a background that could have been the foundation of a great story.

I believe everybody has a good story if you look in the right place. After hundreds of interviews and thousands of episodes, I’m very good at doing this, so I followed up via email.

Our emails went nowhere, with the publicist basically sending me the same again and again. Normally, by this point, I would have already dropped it. I knew her company though and had a good experience with other agents there, so as a professional courtesy, I called her to find out more info on the guest and ask for her specific ideas on what she thought would be a good “hook” for the episode, since I wasn’t seeing her vision that he was a match.

“That’s your job,” she said.

She was right – in the end, it is my job. But it’s also the job of a booking agency or publicist to make it easy for me to do my job. And a good publicist would have seized on the opportunity work with me and get a guest booked.

The email pitch I used as an example had a similar problem.

[NAME REDACTED] teaches on a variety of different subjects and we can discuss what would be the perfect fit for your clients.

This is why I have a system in place, the form I referred her to, which walks people through the process, step-by-step. It specifically asks for episode ideas, which is something anybody doing guest outreach should already have in mind before contacting any media outlet.

Rule #2 - Don’t Lie to Podcasters

Don’t start any relationship you want to have with a podcaster by saying one thing, then doing another. That’s the reason this person who sent me the email above was ignored.

I would love the opportunity to get to know you better and connect further on this to see how we can best service the business world.

Look, it’s general, and probably a form letter. Still, I was open to hearing more.

But when she switched things up, trying to make me play her game, I was done. I have a guest vetting process in place because it’s what I need to provide great content to those who listen to me. If your job is booking people on podcasts, do your part to make this happen – no podcaster worth anything is going to jump through your hoops to book your client.

Rule #3 - “Download Numbers” = Stupid Way to Validate Podcasts (or Guests)

Yes, audience reach for a podcast (or any media) is an important thing to consider when booking yourself or others for media appearances, but impact, which is really what you’re looking for, has less to do with the single metric of “download numbers” and much more to do with how specific and relevant the audience is and how engaged they are with the content.

A specific and engaged audience, even if it’s small, is much more valuable than a large, but general audience.

And it works both ways.

If you’re a podcaster and only think do guest selection based on how “big” somebody is, or how many social media followers somebody has, you are missing out on great guests.

Nobody listening to your podcast cares about how popular somebody is – this isn’t high school. People want good information, inspiring stories, and to feel something when they listen to you. The guest is icing on your cake.

Podcast Guest Booking – The Bottom Line for Podcasters

Everybody has a good story inside them, if you know how to get it. A qualified guest who is skilled at doing podcast interviews and has lived an interesting life with good experiences and valuable knowledge to share isn’t hard to work with and will be willing to work with you to help you get the episode you need for your audience.

If somebody isn’t willing to work with you, doing what you need to make this happen, move on to somebody else who will. You are in charge of your podcast, not them.

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