When a Celebrity SMT Spokesperson Makes Sense

When does it make sense to spend a lot of money on the celebrity spokesperson for a satellite media tour or publicity campaign? In today’s evolving broadcast media world, one of the most important decisions you make when using a single client satellite media tour as part of your campaign is the story angle and the choice of spokesperson. Let’s talk about the spokesperson along with the pros and cons when it comes to using a celebrity for a satellite media tour.

An A-List Celebrity Will Guarantee Top Markets for Most SMTs. Hiring a celebrity as a spokesperson for your brand, service, or product makes good sense when it is an A-Lister or even B-Lister, but in most cases, any celebrity that doesn’t carry that clout will not be a good investment as far as ROI on earned interviews. An A-List celebrity will guarantee top markets for most SMTs, but keep in mind that you need to allow 4-to-6 weeks to book a successful satellite media tour even with an A-Lister. Lack of planning and lead time will dramatically diminish the successful return on the budget spent.

Is the Big Fat Fee Worth It? The answer to whether or not the big fat fee for the spokesperson is worth it or not is a personal professional decision contingent on the ability of the spokesperson to generate interest for top market interviews in addition to the elevation of the product reputation and brand awareness with your target demographic with the spokespersons fame. If the celebrity attached is part of an overall brand building objective, then spend the money to find the right spokesperson for your brand. The amount you spend on the fee for an A-Lister usually guarantees national and top market interviews, but when a client settles for a B-List celebrity or below, the interview results decrease significantly.

Hire the Right Celebrity, Not “Any” Celebrity. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen clients make is engaging the services of the “wrong” celebrity spokesperson – usually because they have vetted them appropriately  for the brand or product they are being asked to represent. If the celebrity has no organic connection to the product, then paying them to recite message points just because you like the celebrity (or they have significant name recognition) is a big mistake. The perfect synergy occurs when the celebrity really likes the brand, believes in the product, and it’s obvious to viewers in their delivery.

I have seen clients be very disappointed with high paid celebrity talent when they have discovered that the celebrity’s real-life experience was contradictory to the product message they were paid to deliver. For example, a client had a beauty product to “reverse” aging and the celebrity spokesperson said that they were not a fan of plastic surgery during the satellite media tour interviews. I later came out that this spokesperson had a plastic surgery procedure or two prior to endorsing the product. Integrity is everything so appropriately vet your spokesperson regarding their product experience so that their messaging will be true to who they are as people and to your product.

Another circumstance involved a celebrity who was hired as a spokesperson for a charitable organization and who had absolutely no connection to the cause but represented themselves to the contrary.  When the spokesperson was “pressed” to describe their personal connection, they said it was “too personal” to discuss in interviews.  If the celebrity does not have a relationship to the charity (or refuses to talk about the connection they do have), then they are not a good match. It’s also difficult to book a celebrity spokesperson for a story involving a charitable cause if they have absolutely no link to it other than they think it’s a good idea. I personally and professionally do not like that charitable organizations pay celebrity spokespersons outrageous amounts of money to promote a charitable cause. In my humble opinion, a celebrity should offer services for a charitable organization they believe in on a pro bono basis or for a SAG day rate. I think they are not being truthful to the public when they are a paid spokesperson for a cause.  I am sure there are many in the industry that disagree with me on this issue, especially agents.

A Spokesperson Agreement Should Include Appearances in Addition to the SMT. The celebrity’s services should be part of a broader campaign that is not limited to a satellite media tour. Hiring a celebrity where the satellite media tour spokesperson is the only part of their contract is a mistake. Their services should also include national TV studio interviews, print, radio, web and even personal appearances where it makes sense. In general, most of these services will be provided within a one-to-two day (or more) time frame. Finally, don’t forget that media training your celebrity spokesperson is essential to getting the most out of your investment or you could end up wasting a lot of money, so find out the top five mistakes SMT spokespersons make.

All of this information may sound very basic — almost like “Hiring a Celebrity Spokesperson 101,” but I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, when it comes to hiring a spokesperson so never assume the obvious.

Feel free to call me and consult when you are in the planning stages of finding the right spokesperson to generate media interest for your brand, product, or service.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Copyright (c) 2014. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

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