Working With Celebrities: 4 Tips to Securing Celebrity Spokespersons and Speakers

Celebrity speakers and spokespersons can be an exciting addition to corporate events, campaigns and fundraising programs.  Sports and entertainment personalities can lend credibility, increase attendance and awareness, motivate employees, encourage donors and create a memorable and enjoyable experience for audiences.  However, the same recognition and allure the gets the seats filled can also be very intimidating when approaching a celebrity regarding their interest and availability for your event.

The following are several tips to consider when securing a celebrity spokesperson:

Assess the celebrity’s association with your product or service: There have been many instances when clients inform us that a celebrity is a fan of their brand or product; so they assume that the celebrity may be willing to participate in events or appearances at a discounted rate (or even free!). Targeting talent that has a genuine interest in your product is a great first step, but the celebrity may not provide a deep discount simply because there is a shared interest.  It is our job to help provide the best deal for our clients, so while we do advise them to “start low” when beginning negotiations, we also like to prepare them for the reality of what celebrities can command in the way of their appearance fees. Understanding endorsements from the talent perspective and client perspective will help to build smart strategies for securing talent and looking like a pro.

Working with celebrities on charitable events and fundraising programs: We work with a number of non-profit organizations on profiling and securing celebrity speakers and spokespersons to bolster support for their respective causes.  In almost all cases, celebrities will decline participation when approached with an unpaid opportunity, even if the charity/cause involved is an extension of their personal philanthropic work.  Well-known celebrities are inundated with invitations, requests and inquiries and rarely accept opportunities when there is no appearance fee offered, as they expect to be compensated for their time and association of themselves and their brand with yours.

Get the inside scoop! While helpful, simply performing an online search about a celebrity is not sufficient in understanding whether they will be an appropriate celebrity spokesperson for your organization.  There is a lot of outdated or erroneous information online and in most cases, you will not be able to formulate a true and accurate sense of the celebrity’s character. Enlisting a professional in this area will help you to get a 360-degree view of what the projects in which the celebrity is involved. For example, if you’re targeting a celebrity that just wrapped a media tour to promote a book, now probably isn’t the best time to hire them for a campaign, since they’ve recently done the TV circuit.  Insiders who are experienced in working with sports and entertainment celebrities can also advise as to which celebrities are pleasant, prompt and congenial… and also those who are not as agreeable to work with!

It’s all in the details: Organizations can be caught off guard when hiring a celebrity speaker, as they do not realize all of the details involved in preparing for the appearance.  Additional considerations include securing a bio and photo for autograph cards, event collateral and promotion; authoring agreements; arranging logistics (flights, hotel, ground transportation); compiling one-sheets and informative information for the celebrity to familiarize himself with the program; composing comprehensive itineraries; securing a highlight video/introduction/script; and facilitation and special requests.  Most event planners have numerous responsibilities leading up to the event and on-site, so it is often beneficial to work with a professional agency that provides turnkey management throughout the process.