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You Never Forget Your First Time: When K2 Met Oprah

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I will never forget the first time I got through to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

It was 1997, and the show was already a hit. I on the other hand had sold my used car to launch K2 the year before. I started in my tiny studio apartment in Hoboken, NJ and then moved to a tinier studio apartment in Manhattan. My “office” was a roll-top hutch in the corner. Not even a desk! Every day I “opened” by rolling the cover up in the morning and saying, “K2 is open for business!” Then I rolled it shut when we closed.

And I had a client who wanted one thing: “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

For 25 years, no six words have driven more publicity people mad than “I want to be on Oprah.” Well, duh, who doesn’t? Today, K2 will say to a client, “Have you ever watched the show? Do you have a story that will work on the show? Think like a producer!” But back then what did I know? I liked my client and wanted to work with them.

So, I picked up the phone and called a producer. And she picked up. And I pitched my heart out. Not too much — just enough to get her interest. I started a conversation, hooking and connecting with her. I made sure she knew I knew the show and thought our pitch would make a great segment. I gave her a sense of packaging. I tried to sound like a producer – a partner – not just a publicist.

Then I asked if we could get together in Chicago with my client and talk further and see what happens. And they said yes! (And we got the segment.)

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That’s how “The Oprah Winfrey Show” helped me launch K2. From that first Konnection, I developed relationships with the people there that I maintain to this day. And I will maintain those Konnections long after the show is off the air. I am proud and honored to have worked with them so many times as I consider myself a friend, part of their team, and a fan – like everyone, I cried when Oprah Winfrey announced the end.

But I also cried because I feel like the show’s mission and vision and K2’s have been the same. The show has done more good, raised more money, helped more people, and changed the world and the way we think. We share a desire to help people and make the world a better place, and I’ll miss that connection.

From a PR perspective we will miss her mightily too. What will happen when “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is not there? For a generation, the show meant opportunity and at least you could dream about an appearance to launch or sell your book, movie products, or ideas.

So now what?

Oprah Winfrey will be back in some way, of course. But in the meantime no one appearance will do it anymore and probably never will again.

So make this your resolution: Give up the dream of a magic bullet. Do more to own our dreams and work to sell it more places more of the time. Create platforms across all media on and off-line and develop tools to make it happen. Realize that success will come from your taking responsibility for your success. And hold yourself and your team accountable for building that success.

It starts with that first call: Make it!