Celebrities At Events: The Spotlight’s On You
By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM, and James S. Rota
Have you heard people say they’re a right-brain or left-brain thinker? Right brainers tend to be creative and instinctual, left-brainers analytical and logical. That’s how Beauty & the Brain was born. James Rota’s creativity meshes with Christy Lamagna’s strategic thinking to bring, ideally, a well-rounded approach to celebrities at events.
From the Brain
Not everyone can hire a celebrity for an event. Some who haven’t had the experience, wish they had. Many who have wish they hadn’t! To make sure your celebrity guest is content and that your time and budget are not hijacked, you might want to follow these recommendations. They come from my personal playbook.
Get everything you can in writing. Do this before a contract is signed. Make sure you understand not just payment details but details of the hospitality and technical riders. A hospitality rider details how many people are traveling with the celebrity and what the on-site and travel requirements are. Make sure you understand what that translates to financially. If your contracted guest travels with four others, for example, that’s potentially four first- or business-class airfares, multiple town cars, suites, room gifts and meals, plus spontaneous on-site requests.
The technical rider should be examined by your production team, so you can get an accurate dollar estimate. Often a speaker has simple lighting preferences and a presentation to show. It gets expensive if you’ve hired musical entertainment that requires more intricate lighting, sound and stage sets.
When you hire a celebrity, ask for “grip and grin” time after the appearance so key guests can have a commemorative photograph. You may also request a book, CD or movie for key guests. Put in writing exactly how many signed items you are contracting and how many photos are being contracted, so there’s no room for interpretation. If you just specify a time period for photos and there are delays, you may end up with very disappointed guests.
Celebrities are people, too. They appreciate being thanked, so follow up with a thank-you note after the appearance.
Have a celebrity story to share? Want a more detailed guide to working with celebrities? Email me at Christy.Lamagna@strategic.events
From the Beauty
I’ve certainly handled my share of “celebrities” and one thing I ‘ve learned is to keep my eyes wide open at all times.
Often the “handler” or “agent” has the loudest bark and strongest bite. It’s their job to protect their clients. Whenever you are able, have an initial conversation with the celebrities themselves and discuss your goals for their role at your event. The celebrity often offers things you wouldn’t get from their handlers.
Recap the conversation immediately and send it back to firm up the details. Next, get out the fine-tooth comb and review the riders. It’s amazing the stories this task will yield.
Always use decorum, and never appear star-struck. My experience has shown that a sincere compliment about their body of work is welcomed but gushing can reduce your effectiveness and will have onlookers seeing you as less than a professional. Lastly, never ever ask for a picture with the celebrity unless it has been predetermined in the contract, or if they graciously offer you the opportunity.
When all is said and done, the celebrity factor adds an element of cache and excitement that can’t be achieved any other way. Embrace the task, and hold on tight!
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