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How to connect with a celebrity

Kim Kardashian will never receive accolades for her acting or singing abilities, yet she is a marketer’s dream. Why? One reason is Kim’s 10.2 million Twitter followers.  Every product Kim mentions in her “tweets”  brings attention to that merchandise.  Kim Kardashian’s recent wedding extravaganza rivaled that of “The Royal” wedding for Kate Middleton and Prince William.  The reality super-star wore three Vera Wang wedding dresses and served up a $20,000 wedding cake.

The cost of the gala event was rumored to be in the millions – but Kim and her family probably never saw a bill.  Marketing savvy businesses with products or services of interest to the bride quickly sought out Kim’s management, hoping to join Kim’s moment in the spotlight.  Once People Magazine and E! Entertainment confirmed exclusive coverage of the wedding, getting in touch with Kim’s camp and bartering product or service was essential toward getting product placement with the megawatt reality star.

Thanks to the Internet, type in “contact for Kim Kardashian” and her agent, publicist, uber-manager and mother, Kris Jenner, pop up.  Kim gets a hefty salary for personal appearances and endorsements, so it’s important her contact information is easy to find!  However, contact information for other celebrities is not always so easy to find.  For good reason, private information on a personality can be difficult to locate.  Don’t count on locating a celebrity directly unless you have the “six degrees of separation” necessary to get your product into a celebrity’s hand.

So let’s walk through a few steps you can try to get your product on Hollywood’s radar:

Step One - The “entourage” of people circling the orbit of a celebrity can be pretty big and intimidating, and usually the bigger the star, the more people surrounding them. For those interested in doing it yourself, contacting a star’s personal publicist is a good place to start.  In my book “Will Work For Shoes – The Business Behind Red Carpet Product Placement” I offer detailed guidelines on how this works and what resources you’ll need to find contact information.

So, just what is the role of “publicists”?  Wikipedia describes a publicist’s role as a person whose job is to generate and manage publicity for a celebrity. Most top-level publicists handle multiple clients.  A publicist’s main function is to generate press coverage for a client and serve as the bridge between a client, their public and media outlets.

Large public relation firms represent hundreds of celebrities and have offices in both New York and Los Angeles to be close to the action of their celebrity clients. You will also come across boutique agencies with celebrity clients.

 

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Step Two – The expression “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket” certainly applies to the next step in your journey towards reaching a celebrity. I suggest creating a big list of celebrities by including established names along with up and coming actors – which might be a little quicker to respond. Now that you’ve gathered the publicist contact information to your stars, you are ready to make your “pitch”.

Any entrepreneur knows how important it is to make sure your “pitch” is succinct and to the point – either through a phone message or email. A publicist will want to know what you are asking of the star, and images of your merchandise are helpful to include with your pitch. You won’t want to go through the process of sending your product, only to find out the celebrity doesn’t like it, won’t have time to return it or gave it away to someone else. It’s important to do your “homework” before you connect with a publicist. These are busy folks, so make sure you know about a celebrity you are trying to reach. For instance, if you design leather clothing, then you wouldn’t want to send anything off to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. Chrissie has been an activist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and a vegetarian since she was 17 – and doesn’t wear leather.  The Internet has certainly made it a lot easier to learn more about the likes and dislikes of a celebrity.

Don’t be disappointed if you end up speaking to an assistant publicist–those assistants will one day handle their own clients, so a budding relationship now can help you later. Chances are they will quickly answer any question you have. The smaller agencies are more “hands on” and have time to figure out if your call will appeal to their client. Once you’ve confirmed a publicist is the best place to send your product, it might sit in their office a few weeks before they will forward it to their client. Even big stars complain about postage or messenger bills!

Step Three – Follow up!  In my book, I site examples of people who have reached this step and have succeeded through persistence. Jill Boehler is a speech pathologist who created the “Chilly Jilly” wrap that folds up into a woman’s purse.  Convinced her business would be a success if she got on Oprah Winfrey’s show, she pitched Oprah’s producers every day for six months. She finally did make it on Oprah’s show and her business took off on QVC.

Try following-up every two weeks, and sometimes you will even be asked to resend the materials. Yet another reason you’ll email descriptions and images first before sending anything.   Be sure to let them know whether you are loaning, gifting or inviting them to an event right up front. It takes time, sometimes weeks, for them to weed through everything they are sent. We may read our mail every day, but in demand celebrities don’t have time to read, analyze and determine quickly if your outreach will make them stand out on the red carpet.

It’s at this step where failure typically surfaces. An entrepreneur will wear many “hats” to market their business for success.  Having the time for consistent celebrity follow up is easier said than done. Don’t give up!  If you can’t get to the celebrity through a publicist on the first try, try again when you have something new to show them.  Publicist’s represent a variety of clients, so don’t forget to ask if another celebrity client might respond to your brand! Building a relationship with a budding publicist and her young up and coming clients – just might get your product launched into Hollywood’s orbit.  Any thriving business owner will tell you the importance of persistence, but sometimes the route to success isn’t always a straight arrow.

Bonus Step -

My book will walk you through every step you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of celebrity marketing and how to do it yourself. However, if you have a budget to hire outside help there is a fresh new approach to celebrity product placement you should know about.

KAIORIZE is an “Online Gifting Suite” with offices in Berlin, New York and Los Angeles and facilitates the process of connecting with celebrities and their publicists. By using the platform KAIORIZE has created a way to upload exclusive products and offer these products to an individual selection of celebrities. Brands from all over the world have taken advantage of this “shortcut” and set themselves on the agenda of the celebrities of their choice. It is an innovative approach for both celebrities and brands and has successfully reshaped the conventional way of celebrity product placement.

Kim Kardashian’s wedding and marriage is over, but another celebrity will walk down the aisle or red carpet along with 10 million Twitter followers. Make sure to start building your connections now, so you are one step closer to Hollywood’s spotlight.

 

By Susan J. Ashbrook