7 Tips Before Hiring a Celebrity
By Rita Tateel, President, The Celebrity Source
Most people will agree that celebrities bring visibility, influence, credibility, attract more media attention and sell more tickets than most ordinary speakers. But a celebrity can only have this impact if they are the right fit for the audience, and not all audiences are alike.
If Ashton Kutcher showed up at a function for senior citizens most of those in attendance would have no idea who he was. Not a celebrity to them. Conversely, if Ed Asner attended a Spring Break event people would wonder what ‘loser’ brought grandpa along? Certainly not a celebrity to them! But switch the celebrity with the audience and you’ve got a hit on your hands!
In other words, “celebrity” is defined by the audience. I define celebrity as anyone well-known, in the public eye, within their field of discipline. This means that celebrity status is not just relegated to entertainment and sports figures. It can be a celebrated author, chef, business tycoon or scientist…it all depends on the audience.
Irrespective of type, what all celebrities have in common is that fame comes with its own set of landmines to traverse. Our job is to help our clients avoid these landmines and ensure that our clients get the most ROI from the celebrity they hire, so here are 7 tips to help steer you in that same direction.
1) Put Yourself in the Celebrity’s Shoes
Before you ask a celebrity to attend an event or participate in a project, ask yourself this question as though you were that celebrity: “Why should I do this?”
If money doesn’t matter and you can afford to pay a celebrity whatever they want, that’s great! But when budgets are tight, or slim to none, there are other elements which could motivate a celebrity to say “yes” beyond money.
When we first start working with a client we will ask them many questions in order to determine all the possible factors which might help motivate a celebrity to accept the request. Motivators might include a personal connection to a cause or concern, media exposure for something they wish to promote, personal interest in the activity, personal connections to the city, the fun/exclusivity of the event, who else is participating, business opportunities, perks and gifts, or simply because of who asked them.
2) Make A List
The celebrity said “yes” now what? Celebrities and their representatives can become very demanding and difficult to work with if the celebrity feels insecure about his or her involvement. The best way to help make celebrities (and their representatives) feel secure is to demonstrate that you have considered every little detail and have anticipated their every question and need.
Once a celebrity has agreed to participate, we will make a list of absolutely everything he or she might want to know or need…every question this person might have, from the moment they leave home until the moment they return…from arrival to departure. We then list of all the answers in a document for the celebrity with all the information in an easy to read format. It’s one of the reasons celebrities have told us they like working with us…the attention to detail.
3) Respect Their Time
Time is a celebrity’s most valuable commodity, so don’t waste it! There are so many people wanting a piece of the celebrity’s time, so they have to ensure that the time they do give you is time well spent. Therefore, ask for the least amount of time that will fulfill your needs. Don’t ask celebrities to arrive too early and never make them wait!
4) Keep Briefings Brief
When a celebrity briefing session is necessary, determine whether it must be in person, or if the briefing can be handled by phone, e-mail or Skype. Of course, we would all rather meet celebrities in person, but remember my tip #3—that “time is their most valuable commodity.” So use alternative communication methods for briefings whenever possible.
5) Avoid Deluging Stars With Too Much Data
Celebrities won’t want to memorize lots of facts and figures—unless they are being paid quite handsomely. Therefore, I recommend no more than 4-5 bullet points of the most important information you want your celebrity to remember and communicate to the media or others in attendance.
We always e-mail briefing notes in advance and also prepare a small “cheat-card” to hand the celebrity discretely when they arrive.
6) Retain a Celebrity Strategist
When you’re trying to secure a celebrity for a speaking engagement, PR/marketing campaign or special event, having the correct phone number or e-mail of their representative is usually not enough. Contacting, negotiating and working with celebrities requires a great deal of knowledge about the industry and an understanding of the current celebrity marketplace.
There are also specialized rules of protocol and strategies to employ when trying to engage the celebrity community, not to mention the myriad of details that can make or break a project. And most importantly, having strong relationships with the celebrities and their representatives can save an immense amount of time, money and frustration!
A good Celebrity Strategist knows what to do, what not to do, and can suggest ideas you probably have never thought of. Among other things they should know help guide you to consider The right strategist A strategist would be able to guide someone as to which celebrity(s) may be “trending" NOW, Today, and thus REALLY impact attendance and or credibility of the brand hiring the celebThat’s why it’s important to involve your Strategist in the planning process from the beginning.
Just as you wouldn’t hire a carpenter to perform knee surgery or a plumber to represent you in court, it doesn’t make sense to engage celebrities on your own or trust another individual or agency who is not a specialist in this area. Hire a Strategist with experience and a proven track record of success. It will save you time, money and frustration in the end.
7) Don’t make any promises you can’t keep and do keep all of the promises you make
This business is so much about relationships. The quickest way to ruin a relationship with a celebrity and/or their representative is not to come through with something that was promised, or take advantage of the situation and ask the celebrity to do things on the spot that were not part of the initial request/negotiation. Stick to your word, be honest throughout, show kindness and concern and you will be rewarded!
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