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Lights, Camera, Action: Five Tips for Using a Celebrity Spokesperson


October 22, 2015

By Dante DelVecchio, Senior Account Supervisor

We’ve all been there – a brainstorming session for a new project kicks off, and the first thing the client asks about is, “what about getting someone famous to be the face for this campaign?”

And while the idea might be rooted in visions of rooftop parties with Hollywood elite, there is a lot of value in enlisting a celebrity spokesperson to draw attention to a new PR campaign – or one that has started to stagnate.  A high-profile name can be an instant media draw, an engaging megaphone to your audience, and a credible testimony for your cause.

But as TMZ is often quick to point out, not all celebrities are created equal.  It doesn’t take many missteps to suddenly end up with a Paula Dean or Kim Kardashian in your hands.  A successful celebrity PR campaign is more than just slapping a spokesperson in front of a satellite media tour.  There’s a lot of work that is needed – both at the front end and throughout the campaign itself.

Here are five ways to get the most out of engaging a celebrity spokesperson:

1.) Pick the Right Person:  While Brad Pitt or Beyoncé might get every media outlet’s attention, most budgets don’t necessarily allow for that level of star power.  But truly, the caliber of the celebrity isn’t the most important aspect; it’s important to find a spokesperson who is right for your program.  Very often for a PR program, that means identifying someone with an authentic connection to the cause or product.  And if you can identify someone who has their own newsworthy events happening at the time of your launch – be it a new show, movie, album, or book coming out – it will only make your pitch to national media outlets that much stronger.

2.) Have a Clear Plan: You cannot just take an existing program, put a famous name and face on the materials, and expect the media to beat down your door.  You have to ensure that your spokesperson and program work hand-in-hand, with the components of the program seamlessly tied into the rationale for the celebrity’s involvement.  It’s also paramount to have very clearly spelled-out responsibilities and expectations for your spokesperson.  In Hollywood, schedules change quickly and a celebrity’s attention can be diverted easily; having very clear rules of engagement minimizes any additional conflicts or A-list temper tantrums that could arise.

3.) Find an Agent:  A good celebrity agent is worth more than the fees you’ll be paying the celebrity themselves.  They not only assist with the identification and vetting of a celebrity, but they also serve to ensure the spokesperson is adhering to everything that has been agreed to, no matter what last-minute requests or riders appear (green M&Ms and all).  They’re the “bad cops” that you’ll rely on at every step of the way, and the ones who can remind a diva where the paycheck comes from at the end of the day.

4.) Set Expectations:  When the bill for a celebrity spokesperson shows up, clients will immediately expect the world for the amount of zeroes they’re seeing.  And rightly so – it’s a big expense that can yield big results.  But it’s also not an immediate path to every major television show appearance out there.  Some big media outlets are increasingly cautious of paid celebrity spokespeople, and even if an interview is booked, they might not allow the individual to talk about their work with your program.  So it is important to ensure the client understands what is feasible and what challenges might arise throughout the pitch process.

5.) Engage the Audience: A good celebrity and strong media draw is good, but a spokesperson who connects with the target audience you’re attempting to reach is even better.  That can be everything from in-person events to get the community excited, or even having a strong social media component to support the campaign and get people talking online.

What other tips do you have for successfully incorporating a celebrity spokesperson into your PR campaign?