Rod Mitchell, Director & Publicist, Talk Guests
18th July 2003
Man Australia continues to secure the best interviews
in the business.
Tingle interviews Rod Michell, Talk Guests Galore
discusses his break in the media business, what he
offers, and some of the nice folks he deals with on
a regular basis.
feel that much can be learned from the business model
Rod has developed, and potentially be employed in
the smaller Australian market.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
has the internet been a help and a hindrance to you?
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.
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 ( www.aimpress.com
your "claim to fame"?
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.
same year (2000), and because of the media's need
for colorful and informative guests, we launched TalkGuestsGalore.com
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.
only 500 media outlets subscribed to our service.
We, unfortunately did not seek any clients other than
the authors we currently represented.
we grow by accident more than design.
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.
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
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.
services do you offer?
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
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.
media exposure have you received?
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.
have been your biggest supporters?
media, bar none, have been a biggest supporters, and
that crazy phenomenon, known as the Internet.
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.
do you know about the Australian market?
I know absolutely nothing about the Australian market,
even though I occasionally get calls from Sydney or
Perth radio shows.
are your current projects?
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.
else should our readers know about you and Talk Guests
about it! Rod Mitchell.
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.
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
wish Rod continued success, and look forward to continued
Guests Galore official website