By:  Anna De Souza –

Perhaps your company is coordinating an event for the near future. Whether it’s a charity function or a product launch, your marketing and PR dollars may be well spent on a national or local celebrity.

We caught up with Wendy Dutwin, CEO and Founder of Limelight Media, a media entertainment firm linking celebrities with prominent cause-related PR campaigns for tips on why to consider celebrity flair. Wendy has facilitated such programs as Hilary Swank with Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, Brooke Shields with Tupperware’s Chain of Confidence initiative, and Tim Gunn’s Addressing Psoriasis campaign.


  1. Celebrity Talks, Media Listens: If you are interested in getting some attention for your charity or product, a celebrity is a great way to invest your marketing dollars. They are a big draw for the media especially if you negotiate that they give interviews to TV and print outlets as part of the contract (and not just attend the event). This can help your charity have the “voice” that it needs to communicate the message to the public.


  1. Finding the Right Celebrity: First off, you’ll need to do some research about who is the best celebrity to attend your event. While the Internet is a great place to start, you shouldn’t believe all of the hype that’s online because much of the information is not accurate. When looking online, check for legitimate TV and print interviews so you can see if they’ve already been featured in the news (and gauge whether it’s too soon to work with them again) and what type of charities they are partnering with recently. Also check their official website, read their blogs and follow them on Twitter. This will help give you a sense about what they are passionate about. Of course, enlisting a professional who has the ear to the ground in Hollywood will help you to get a 360-degree view of what the celebrity is working on as well as upcoming projects. Even if a professional may add a bit more to your budget, it may save you time and money in the long run.


  1. Balancing Your Budget: Many charities are on a tight budget for their events and it’s often surprising how much you’ll need to budget to have a celebrity attend your event. Think through all the possible expenses to figure out what you can spend. In many cases celebrities will need to travel so consider extras such as flights, meals, hotel, on-the-ground transportation and special requests. Allow for a little extra for negotiating as well as any surprise expenses.


  1. Local Celebrities: After you have tallied up your budget, a big name celebrity might not be in the stars for your event. Local celebrities including athletes, news anchors, authors, experts, restaurant owners, and the socialite set are often good options at a lower cost. Just make sure that they are established enough to drum up some local media attention.


  1. Level of Participation: There are certain negotiating tools that you can use to help keep your costs down when considering the level of participation with the celebrity. For example, if you’re doing a series of events, perhaps just hire the celebrity for the kick off event. Also, keep in mind it’s the quality of the interview and not necessarily the quantity! Negotiate one print and one TV interview, which can be exclusives for your top tier media outlets rather than a series of interviews or media tour. Finally, if it’s too expensive to have a celebrity attend an event in person, perhaps they can help show support from afar by making a video for the charity’s website, participating in a PSA or helping promote the charity through their personal blog and Twitter.



  1. Celebrities Do Not Work for Free: Don’t assume a celebrity will work for free even if the charity/cause is an extension of their personal philanthropic work. While celebrities will donate their time for some charities, this is often a favor to another celebrity or if a celebrity feels driven to help in a time of crisis. Expect a celebrity to be financially compensated for their time and association of their own brand with your charity.


  1. Celebrities have Personal Lives, Too: Even if a celebrity’s schedule is “light” it’s not a guarantee that they will work with you. Many celebrities work long hours or travel quite a bit so they are scrupulous about what projects and partnerships they take on. Celebrities (even not top tier celebs) can decline your campaign depending on the scope of work and budget. It’s important to understand that celebrity schedules do not always revolve around their work and endorsements.


  1. Celebrities Will Bring their Friends to Your Event: If you’re hiring a celebrity to attend your event, don’t assume that they will bring their friends. In some cases, they may bring a friend or a companion but it’s never guaranteed – and it’s certainly not guaranteed they’ll be someone well-known.