Today at #BEA11, a bunch of folks gathered round a wide-screen TV to watch the final Oprah show. The event was hosted by a publisher who provided champagne, chocolate and mini-cupcakes. At the end of a long day at BEA, it was a welcome treat. There was quite a crowd gathered round the TV, and as Oprah walked on the screen, the group fell silent. The TV audience stood up and applauded and behind me I heard a woman whisper “Thank God I’ll never again have to hear â€˜but can you get me on Oprah?'”
Look, with all due respect to the show, the woman, and the legend she leaves behind, most of us in PR have heard “But, can you get me on Oprah?” more times than we care to admit, and sometimes we’d hear this from authors who have no business being on the show. I once heard it from a guy who wrote a book on fly fishing. All righty then.
As I watched some of the final show, I heard more voices around me, more PR people cheering the end of the Oprah show. Though after the initial comment, there was some nervous laughter. I mean, who wants to admit we’re tired of Oprah? How wildly unpopular! But, it’s not that we’re tired of her. We’re just tired of being asked. But actually, it’s not even that. I think for the right author and message, Oprah was a great target.
The problem was that the show got so many pitches, and had such a lengthy pitch process, that the process of getting an author considered was enormous and sometimes a waste of an author’s time and effort. However, while there was a “chance” to be on her show, an author would hold onto that dream. Even the: “I have a connection to Oprah!” which turns out, was a friend of a friend, of a friend, of a friend who has a grooming shop who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows Oprah’s dog groomers. Great, that’s only 97 degrees of separation. My favorite, however, was this: “Can you get me on Ocra?” I have a rule: you have to be able to pronounce the name of the show you are going to be on. Period. End of story.
Most PR people worth their salt have all had a crack at the show, and some have even been lucky enough to have guests on. I know from experience that pitching the Oprah Show for even just one author could be a full-time job. Getting on the show could be golden for some, and for the publicist that pulled this off – our hats off to him or her for this achievement. But now that it’s over, we look back on the buzz around Oprah and many wonder: “Who will take her place?” Let’s hope no one. The world had the Oprah Show and it was great, let’s try something new. I can hardly wait to see what it will be.
In the meantime, I toast every author who has ever seen their career skyrocket after being on the show and I, along with probably every publicist in the US, am thrilled to never again hear: “But, can you get me on Oprah?”