Get on ‘Oprah’ via O Magazine

The big mistake most people make when trying go get onto “Oprah” is failing to understand that their product, service, cause or issue isn’t a perfect match with Oprah’s audience.

Day after day, I see people with academic topics, or products for the corporate suite, or services for niche audiences trying to compete with the gazillion other Publicity Hounds who are pitching “Oprah.”

Mistake Number Two is sending by snail-mail books or other products they hope will catch the producers’ attention. Oprah’s staff receives an astonishing 200 books per month! Do you know where all of them end up, along with all the other packages? Either in the trash, or the staff donates them to a worthy cause.

Oprah show inundated
Producers don’t have time to wade through the mountains of unsolicited material. Working 12- and 14-hour days, they need to save time wherever they can. So in many cases, they look to a reliable source they can trust: O, The Oprah Magazine. If you’ve been featured in O, the producers know you’ve already passed inspection, so to speak.

For example, Genevieve Piturro, who founded The Pajama Program, a charity that gives new pajamas to needy children, first appeared in O Magazine, and then on “Oprah” in 2007. And what a show it was.

Oprah issued a challenge to the 300 people in the audience to buy and donate pajamas. As a result, the audience brought in more than 32,000 PJs for the charity. As a result of that great segment, producers at Oprah & Friends XM radio booked Piturro for an interview on the radio show.

Sometimes it works the other way around. You can get onto the TV show first, and then appear in the magazine. But because competition for the TV show is so intense, it’s often better to try to get into the magazine first.

O Magazine’s 12 favorite topics

Susan Harrow, who wrote the ebook Get into O Magazine, says editors are looking for about a dozen types of stories and interview subjects when they sift through the thousands of pitches, emails, books and other solicitations:

1. A book that women want to read. (Authors, pay attention.) It must be well-written, moving, funny, dramatic, or it must deal with a topic that Oprah believes women must know about. That’s why you must do your research and watch the show so you understand Oprah’s hot-button topics.

2. Unusual gifts for pets, or a heart-warming story about your relationship with your pet. After the magazine featured BowWowTV, a company that makes DVDs for dogs, Denise Loren was able to get her product into 100 retail outlets.

3. A story about how you inspired some great shift your community.

4. Out-of-the ordinary tips from the experts on how to save money, do good for others, and live to the fullest. After business advisor Stephen Shapiro, author of the book Goal-Free Living: How to Have the Life You Want NOW!, was featured in O Magazine, he got calls from Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily and Family Circle.

5. Breakthroughs in health, anti-aging, dealing with health care and optimal healthful living. When the magazine featured the Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center, patients flocked to the center, says Dr. Annabelle Volgman.

6. A service that has helped thousands of people and that others can use when the economy is bad.

7. A product, service, cause or issue that helps children love in a unique way.

8. Suggestions on how women can stop obsessing over what they want and, instead, start appreciating what they have.

9. How you’ve gotten through some of the toughest times in your life and advice you can share on how other women can do the same.

10. A unique perspective on relationships.

11. New research on a topic that women need to know about. (If you know about the topics Oprah thinks are important, this is an easy one to tie into.)

12. Products that women love and are beautifully packaged. (Some of these could end up as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”)

Susan Harrow also points out that Publicity Hounds with topics that pertain to architecture, living, home decorating, art or creativity might also be able to get into O now that the Hearst Corporation has decided to discontinue O at Home because of declining advertising revenue. Those topics will be moved into O magazine.

Joan Stewart publishes the free ezine “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week,” which gives you valuable tips on how to generate thousands of dollars in free publicity. Subscribe at