Emma Usher How to book great celebrity talent in 3 simple steps

Opinion: How to book great celebrity talent in 3 simple steps

Emma Usher, director of talent booking agency RunRagged and founder of The VIP Suite, gives her top tips for securing the best celebrity talent for your PR initiatives.

The right mix of celebrity talent can make media coverage go further. Group shots or unusual pairings at an event make for better stories, and relevant talent fronting a campaign can make your brand topical and more likely to get attention for the right reasons.

At RunRagged we’ve been connecting agencies and brands with talent for PR campaigns, endorsements and events for over 20 years.

Talking to agents, pricing and managing celebrities is what we do – all day, every day. So, we’ve picked up a lot of best practice over the years. Here are our three top tips for booking the best talent for your PR initiatives.

1. Profile, profile, profile

Pull together a list of the talent that you want. Then, research and get to know them inside out. Make sure they match your brand, have fans that you want your brand to engage with, are topical and (importantly) will actually take on the job.

Check their social media to see the types of events and campaigns they’ve done before. If your brand doesn’t fit, it will be clear.

Due diligence is also essential. Check for any bad press around the person you are looking to book, both now and in the past. You don’t want to find out weeks into negotiations that your preferred ambassador for a car campaign has had driving bans.

The more time spent profiling, the more time – and money – you’ll save later. Edit your list based on the above findings and be cutthroat.

2. Think about value vs cost – and don’t overpay

Unless you are booking talent every day, it is almost impossible to know what a celebrity will charge for a certain piece of work. Working with experts who know the going rates is often cheaper in the long run, as they understand the many nuances to booking talent that can affect talent fees.

If booking in-house, decide what your fee for each celebrity is in line with your budget and including wiggle room. Then, approach agents with a figure, rather than asking for their rate. If you can’t negotiate within your bracket, move on.

Throwing cash at the problem will only set a precedent and inflate the market for everyone else. It may also result in an ambassador who is only signing up for the cash and not because they’re interested in the brand or project.

At the end of the day, it’s all about value. If a celebrity believes in your cause, they’re far more valuable and authentic than someone who’s just there for pay.

3. Foster long-term relationships to spot valuable fans

The best long-term advice we give to our clients is to have a celebrity strategy, just as they would a PR or marketing one. Part of this is to have authentic engagement with as many of the right profile celebrities as possible, via controlled gifting for example. This allows you to uncover the real, genuine advocates who love your brand.

From there, you can build up a list of true fans you can approach for paid work later on – and who will deliver better authenticity and value than someone who is coming in cold.

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