Interview - Rod Mitchell

Interview: Rod Mitchell, Director & Publicist, Talk Guests Galore:
July 2003

Media Man Australia continues to secure the best interviews in the business.

Greg Tingle interviews Rod Michell, Talk Guests Galore guru.

Rod discusses his break in the media business, what he offers, and some of the nice folks he deals with on a regular basis.

We feel that much can be learned from the business model Rod has developed, and potentially be employed in the smaller Australian market.

What's your background?

I was raised on an Iowa farm, and began my career in radio broadcasting as a news reporter. After six years, I was reporting on a fire at an insurance office when I was recruited to join the company as a salesman. It was tough work and alot of rejection selling insurance door-to-door. Within a couple of years I was promoted up the rank l to management and began designing promotions that would help us gather sales leads, to eliminate the tough adversity faced by salespeople. The attrition was terrible. The company ultimately assigned me to the country of Canada. I traveled each week to all ten provinces of the vast country.

I decided to implement my promotion in that country and hired Canadian celebrities we could use in nationally televised commercials. The advertising campaign became so popular that was soon necessary for me to handle publicity for the celebrities. The travel was a killer though, and after 14 years I resigned to form my own publicity and promotions agency. I called it Adventures In Media.

In 1990 I moved my family from the frigid winters of Omaha, Nebraska to the tropical warmth of Houston, Texas. I not only represented celebrities, film & TV producers, but also began representing authors and regional musical talent.

Over the years our agency has represented Charlton Heston, Gods & Generals director/producer, Ron Maxwell, actor Shelley Duvall, and members of the cast of 'The Waltons' (we still represent Mary McDonough [Erin}). We worked as a studio publicist on the Chuck Norris film, "Sidekicks" and handled publicity during the production of more than a dozen film & TV shows.

In 1993 we began representing authors and serving major publishers. We have worked with nearly 200 authors and some of the largest trade publishers in the country, including; Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Putnam-Penquin and Billboard Books.

How has the internet been a help and a hindrance to you?

1995, after we subscribed to AOL and our business began to change drastically. It was suddenly faster and more efficient than faxing or using the US mail.

After three years we basically stopped faxing press releases and only mail out press packages 15% of the time. We were among the first publicity agencies in the country to use email as a vehicle for the distribution of press materials. We launched national media campaigns across the country via the Internet. I had established a web site by that juncture ( ).

What's your "claim to fame"?

In the year 2000 we were beginning to receive inquiries from many of the media outlets who had booked clients for interviews. They had been perusing our web site as they seeked out colorful guests for radio and TV talk and news programs. We had always made an effort to represent non-fiction authors, and most of them were experts in a particular field. They made excellent contributors to working news stories.

That same year (2000), and because of the media's need for colorful and informative guests, we launched We purchased list server software and sent emails to all of our media contacts (only 800 at that time), and we invited them to subscribe to our new FREE e-mail alert service. In other words, when breaking stories hit the news, if we had an author among our ranks who could contribute to the story, we would alert all of our media contacts by simply sending one e-mail.

Initially, only 500 media outlets subscribed to our service. We, unfortunately did not seek any clients other than the authors we currently represented.

Sometimes we grow by accident more than design.

When 9/11 occurred, we found ourselves with no new authors being released by trade publishers. The literary business was basically at a standstill. The media were still coming to us, but now they wanted experts on Afghanistan, the Talliban, Al Qeada, Terrorism, Military intelligence and so much more than we were prepared to offer.

We took our calamity and turned it into an opportunity. We began contacting authors who had written about many of the topics needed by the media. We contacted retired employees of federal agencies (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.), and military retirement groups, who could help us locate retired military officers. We established a low and affordable rate that we felt every client could afford ($300 per month / with 3 months prepaid).

We began building a growing list of experts in a variety of areas, and as word began to spread, our subscribership base also grew. By the end of 2002 more than 2,100 media outlets, worldwide, had subscribed to our service. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, we supplied more than 30 retired military officers to report and serve as a consultant to FOX, CNN and MSNBC.

What services do you offer?

The services we provide our clients today are the same as they have always been. We prepare press materials (press release, client bio, book synopsis, and interview questions), and contact the media and schedule interviews and appearances.

With the benefit of TalkGuestsGalore we can provide more reach to clients than most agencies, and on a more immediate basis. This is primarily because the relationships we have built with our media contacts are strong and long term, and the media have become very dependent on us for guest and experts. I have found it beneficial to give them 'freebees' every once in a while -- I call it throwing them a bone -- by helping them locate guests and experts who are not one of our clients. The media love it, and of course many of those we schedule for these freebee interviews are so impressed that they become our client.

What media exposure have you received?

We have been very blessed to have had major doors open for us. The basic value of a publicist is who (and how many) they know in the media. Over the years, as many producers, bookers and hosts have moved from network to network and program to program, we have maintained communication. People who worked on the Phil Donahue Show 15 years ago, may now work on the Dr. Phil show. Those who were bookers, or a segment producer, like Dianne Hudson on the Oprah Show, are now the Executive Producer. The media is very loyal and will always be there for a publicist, if you treat them with respect and cater to their needs.

Who have been your biggest supporters?

The media, bar none, have been a biggest supporters, and that crazy phenomenon, known as the Internet.

What motivates you?

I am a news junkie, and nothing motivates more than when a breaking news story hits. I love the challenge of locating guests and having them be among the first to report and contribute to a news story. I also just love it when I get one of those skeptical and doubting clients, and shocking their socks off when I get them immediately scheduled on a major show, like NBC Today Show, or Bill O'Reilly within only a matter of days.

What do you know about the Australian market?

Unfortunately I know absolutely nothing about the Australian market, even though I occasionally get calls from Sydney or Perth radio shows.

What are your current projects?

I have only represented one or two novels in my career since non fiction authors make better guests for news and talk programming. I have just taken on my first fiction novel, and really love the challenge. I have also been retained by a man in Texas who alleges that he conceived the show American Idol in 1994, and has sued FOX television, the two simons (Cowell & Fuller) and several other defendants. It promises to be a very busy project.

What else should our readers know about you and Talk Guests Galore?

That's about it! Rod Mitchell.


Editors note: A most interesting interview and operation to say the least. Given how Media Man Australia is now starting to really position itself strongly in the Australian market, it will be interesting to see how our dealings with Talk Guests Galore move forward.

Rod may not know this yet, but the editor of Media Man Australia, Greg Tingle, is a Channel 31 TV presenter! Lately MMA has diversified into covering most forms of media.

We wish Rod continued success, and look forward to continued contact.


Talk Guests Galore official website