4 Tips for Engaging Celebrity Influencers for PR

Are you trying to add a little spark to your brand? SHIFT recenently led a discussion on how celebrities can help super-charge your campaigns and maximize brand exposure in a panel with Publicity Club of New England at Wayfair.com’s offices. The lively discussion was titled “Leveraging Celebrities to Elevate Your Brand: Best Practices for Engaging Celebrity Spokespeople for PR Campaigns.”

Panelists included:

If you’re considering integrating celebrities into your campaigns, be sure to consider following 4 tips for engaging celebrities and PR:

  1. Ideally, the relationship will develop organically.  If a favorable celebrity naturally selects your brand, it’s a great win. For example, Sarah Hines mentioned that Reese Witherspoon first debuted her infant son in an UPPAbaby stroller. The coverage immediately resulted in increased web-traffic and sales for UPPAbaby. If a celebrity loves your brand, he or she can become an informal brand ambassador (unknowingly!) and this can also set the foundation for a future relationship.
  2. Don’t be afraid to reach out to make it happen. If you know that your brand would be a great fit for a particular celebrity, connect with his or her entourage. A celebrity usually has a team that includes a publicist, assistant, manager and agent—and these are definitely the people you want to keep happy. Utilize databases like IMDB Pro to identify the team and find the best way to connect.
  3. One-size does not fit all: Choose your channel. Annie Perkins made it clear she loves making connections via phone; but the phone may not be for everyone. Jenny Johnson said she checks her voicemail once every three months and prefers email. Angela Perry “doesn’t do the Twitter,” but Sarah Hines sends congratulatory tweets to celebs who announce their pregnancy via Twitter. Notice the lack of trend? Make sure to do your homework to determine the best channel to use for outreach.
  4. Expect the unexpected. Similar to the idea of high-risk, high-reward, a celebrity relationship can be a slippery slope. What if the very well-behaved celebrity suddenly acts out, or does something to offend a lot of people? Monitor the news and get all the facts. Analyze the specific issue and your consumer’s responses to it. Weigh the situation carefully and make sure you don’t react rashly to something that could be old news in two days, or potentially didn’t even happen at all.

Celebrity ambassadors, with their enormous amount of reach and natural newsworthiness, can have a huge impact on a brand. If a campaign is successful, consumers will ideally begin to connect a celebrity’s positive characteristics and general awesomeness with that of the brand. Plus, powerful celebrity-brand campaigns stick with you. (Many of us will forever associate Pepsi with Britney Spears. Seriously—forever.)

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