Creating the Oprah Effect in Communications Campaigns

Adele’s interview with the iconic talk show host provides a great lesson for getting out your message, writes Senior Vice President Meredith Montalto.

Oprah Winfrey is an American institution. An empire. An icon. Countless celebrities have sat with her, baring their souls.


Most recently, pop singer Adele opened up to Oprah to promote her new album, “30.” And Britney Spears mused that she might give her first public interview to Oprah after over a decade of silence in an abusive conservatorship.


While Oprah has both critics and supporters, no one can disagree that she has the power of an enormous audience, and her imprimatur bestows instant credibility. There’s even a term for the power of her endorsement – the “Oprah Effect.”

Maybe she’s even the genesis of what we today call an “influencer.” And really, in communications, we’re looking to tell our stories in a way that reaches our target audience in an authentic way. We’re all aiming for the Oprah Effect.


I have to think the Venn diagram of Adele fans and Oprah fans is almost a complete overlap. A meme of this probably exists somewhere. I can’t imagine an outlet or reporter who could give Adele a better platform to share her story with her fans about the transformations in her life that inspired her latest music. Oprah was sympathetic, gave Adele a venue to express herself, and reached millions of people who were among Adele’s key demographic. Let’s just say my mom is a fan of both women.


When we work with our clients for thought leadership development, issue advocacy or any of our communications services, we always try to match them with the best opportunities to reach their audiences, in partnership with trusted and credible outlets and messengers. These opportunities are cultivated carefully and intentionally, because we know when people receive information from a source they know and trust, it makes them more inclined to believe and trust it.


Yes, Oprah has a huge audience, and her interview with Adele generated media coverage in and of itself. If Adele had interviewed with a host or reporter who had skewered her for some reason (not sure how, because her weight loss and divorce are hardly scandalous), the coverage could have been negative and put her album release in jeopardy. I’ve never been a believer in the old maxim that “all press is good press.”


Reaching your audience where they are and through vehicles they trust is a core tenet of communications. This can be a media outlet, an influencer, trusted community leaders or anyone with whom your audience has a real and trusted relationship. Yes, when promoting an album, spreading the net wide makes a lot of sense. But catching a fish like Oprah can reel in a big benefit when your audience overlaps and you know she will lend you safe space to share your story.


I grew up watching Oprah on daytime television. If she thinks I should go buy and listen to “30,” I probably will. If she interviews Britney, you bet I will be watching it.

Professional headshot of Ceisler Media Senior Vice President Meredith Montalto, a blonde woman smiling in a green blazer.

Meredith Montalto is a Senior Vice President in Ceisler Media’s Philadelphia office.

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