The advantages of featuring celebrity appearances at grand openings and promotional events are clear: you familiarize customers with your location, drive traffic to your store, and provide a great experience for members of the community which will ensure a positive association with your brand and outlet. However, an organization must be thoroughly prepared when implementing any celebrity appearances, or else you can have some unhappy customers, which completely defeats the purpose of investing in celebrities in the first place!
1. Communication is key. Ensure that the celebrity implicitly understands what is expected of them. They should be provided with concise directions including where to park and also who to contact upon their arrival. It is also crucial that the celebrity knows exactly what time to arrive, until what time they are required to stay and what their responsibilities are on site. Any other details, such as how many autographs are allowed for each person, should also be disclosed prior to the event. The host of the event should also provide a “one-sheet” with information about the organization and program.
2. It’s all in the details. Thorough organization is a vital element to any successful celebrity appearance. You will need to plan where in the store the celebrity and autograph table will be set up, ensuring that the area can support a long line of customers. Along with the table, you should arrange one or two chairs for the celebrity and his or her representative. Make sure the background of the table is aesthetically pleasing so that the background of pictures looks nice. It’s also a good idea to set up a display with your logo so that the customer will forever associate that great experience with your brand! Stanchions should be set up to demonstrate where your customers can line up. Ensure that you have a sufficient number of pens, markers and sharpies; the standard colors needed are blue, black and silver. It is also nice to have a couple of waters available for the talent. Another small, but important touch is to request the celebrity wear a jersey or polo from his or her team, or with a hat or shirt with your company’s logo.
3. It must be a sign. When promoting the appearance in print, radio or television ads, it is important to communicate as much information as possible, including how many items each guest is limited to and the possible “cut-off time” for the line. You should always warn guests, that the line is subject to being cut off 30 minutes before the appearance ends, so if your event is 6-8pm, the line can be cut by 7:30pm. This way, they know they must arrive by that time if they are guaranteed to receive an autograph. This same tenet holds true on site. Be sure to include signs and posters in and around the autograph area which clearly communicate when the line is subject to being cut off and how many items each person is entitled to have signed.
4. Man up! On the day of the celebrity event, you should have a team of 3-4 people available to assist with the autograph appearance. One person should be designated as a “facilitator” that will stand between the guests and the celebrity. The facilitator will take any items brought by guests and pass them to the celebrity to ensure that all the celebrity has to do is sign his or her name. This is especially important as very well attended appearances. The second person should be the “line manager” who is responsible for monitoring the line, keeping track of how many people have gone through the line (and at what rate) and for cutting off the line if necessary. If the line is cut off, this person would need to stay at the back of the line and tell any latecomers (in the nicest way possible!) that if they choose to wait, they are not guaranteed to make it up to the table for an autograph and that the line has been cut. The third team member should be the “security guard”; he or she would stand near the celebrity table and be on hand in case of any overzealous sports fans! If a fourth member is available, he or she would serve as the “photographer”, taking photos with the guests’ cameras at their request.
5. Go with a pro. Celebrity appearances and autograph sessions can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially if you do not have a great deal of experience. When working with an agency, it should be expected that they send a representative to assist you with the appearance on-site. At Pro Sports MVP, we have a staff member at each and every event we procure who is on hand to assist in managing the appearance. We even bring the sharpies!