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Talk show host Oprah Winfrey surrounded by some of the 276 people from her audience who each received one of the new cars at the start of the show to celebrate the premier of her 19th season. (Bob Davis)
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey surrounded by some of the 276 people from her audience who each received one of the new cars at the start of the show to celebrate the premier of her 19th season. (Bob Davis)

Grow: Mia Wedgbury

Featured by the stars: Your product on Oprah? Add to ...

With a unique product and a solid strategy, anything is possible.

Whether you work at a multinational corporation or a small Canadian start-up, having your company’s creation featured by a daytime TV star such as Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres is the holy grail of product placement.

With a diverse audience in the millions, Ms. Winfrey, Ms. DeGeneres and other favourites have a loyal following and an established tradition of surprising audiences by handing out products the host believes to be the greatest, or just the quirkiest, items on the market.

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Last week, two of my colleagues came to me with a huge win: they had caught the attention of Ms. Winfrey’s producers for one of our Canadian clients. As an entrepreneur at a small or mid-sized company, you may not think the goal is attainable, but with a unique product and a solid strategy you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to the stars.

Achieving that kind of attention is not as simple as sending a friendly e-mail or making a phone call. Partnering with a professional who has the background knowledge, the contacts and the pitching experience can tip the balance for your company. We all know Ms. DeGeneres likes to dance and Ms. Winfrey likes to read, but it is the experts who have the edge: they’ve invested their time to learn the small details that could make or break the pitch.

When pitching, keep it brief, make it personal and focus on the reasons the audience will get excited about the product. An interesting lead or an unusual subject line always makes a difference and it will go a long way toward getting you noticed.

You’re also going to need the support of a communications team to deal with the typically spectacular fallout of a celebrity nod: increased web traffic, social media buzz, more interviews, a greater number of store visits, and last but certainly not least, sales shooting through the roof.

I often see companies that are hesitant to actively promote their products beyond Canada. We are Canadian after all, and we don’t always think we will break through the crowded U.S. market. But as I saw this week for a handful of clients, it is possible.

What I’ve learned over the years is this: be bold, think beyond borders, and never underestimate the interest in your products.

Ms. Winfrey and Ms. DeGeneres only accept the best of the best – but how do you know that’s not you?

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Wedgbury is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.

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