Leveraging a celebrity spokesperson as part of a PR campaign can be an incredibly powerful tool to draw attention to a brand, product, or company. Yet certain steps are necessary to ensure the partnership does not go awry.
The first factor to consider is determining exactly what you want out of the partnership, and ensuring the celebrity is a good fit with the brand or messaging, says Rita Tateel, president of The Celebrity Source.
“You want to get someone who believes in the messaging, product, and brand,” she says, “someone that has a credible connection, and who has time.”
For example, her firm keeps track of celebrity interests, such as whether they have children or pets, their hometown, and what type of sports they enjoy, among other things.
When hiring a celebrity for a restaurant chain partnership, you might ask potential spokespeople whether they eat the type of food the restaurant serves, adds Glenn Rosenblum, president of Celebrity Access Incorporated.
Five or 10 years ago, companies often hired celebrity spokespeople solely for their names or faces, says David Schwab, VP and MD at Octagon First Call. But now many celebrities have their own Web sites, books, and blogs, so it's wise to choose a celebrity with a strong reach as an influencer, rather than just a popular face.
“It's important to look at the assets that a celebrity has because that extends or leverages the program,” he says.
Agencies should make it clear to clients the impact that will come from individual celebrities, including any potential problem or controversy that could arise, explains Michael Heller, president of Talent Resources.
"We do a lot of surveys and statistics and really present every situation that could go wrong, and see how the client would react," he says. “We say to them, ‘This is what can happen, this is what can go wrong.'”
Before approaching a celebrity, agencies should brainstorm to determine exactly what they want them to do, and what will realistically fit within their budget.
“The best thing is to try to get as much of the objectives accomplished with the least amount of time being asked of the celebrity,” Tateel says.
Ensure the celebrity is a good fit with the brand, not just a well-known face
Brainstorm to determine exactly what you expect from the celebrity
Choose a celebrity based solely on popularity
Add responsibilities for the celebrity after the campaign has begun