Bridging the Gap: Reaching for the Stars

This post is part of our PRSSA 2012 National Conference series, where members of our Executive Board will be sharing tips from various breakout sessions.

If there is one public relations strategy that is almost always effective, it is getting a celebrity involved in the campaign. In a presentation entitled Reaching for the Stars: Recruiting Celebrities for PR Campaigns & Special Events, we learned, however, that securing and working with celebrities is not always the easiest task.  Rita Tateel, President of the Celebrity Source, shared some insight into working with Hollywood.

  • Your audience defines who is a celebrity. The age, gender, and lifestyle of your intended audience defines who is a celebrity.  Young children are not going to appreciate Clint Eastwood, just as an adult crowd is not going to be impressed with Willow whipping her hair back and forth. Knowing your audience will determine which kind of celebrity you are looking for: sports figure, movie star, recording artist, etc.
  • Celebrities are demanding. According to Tateel, celebrities are demanding because they are insecure. Having worked in the industry for over a decade, Tateel knows that celebrities live in a world where everyone always wants something from them. Their way of trying to take charge over their life is to be demanding.
  • Time is their most important commodity. Celebrities are pulled in a million different directions. They are often forced to juggle work and family, and still need to have time for themselves. When hiring a celebrity for an event, photo shoot, product endorsement, etc., don’t bring them in for any longer than you need them. The less time you need from them, the more likely they are to say yes.
  • Make sure there is something in it for them. How do you get a celebrity to say yes? You have to ask yourself as the PR liaison, what’s in it for them?  Tateel recounted a project she worked on where the celebrity initally said no when offered money, but when offered an afternoon of golfing while his wife and kids enjoyed VIP treatment at a nearby theme park, he decided to say yes. Celebrities are not in it for the money, they generally have plenty of that.

Ultimately, celebrities attract large visibility and media attention to any campaign, however there are many ramifications when working with them. One of the biggest things Tateel said to remember was to always have a back-up plan. Celebrities are human. Life happens. Be prepared for it.

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