How to hire a celebrity as a speaker for your event
Wouldn't it be great if we could get (______) to speak at our event? NOW WE CAN!
How to Hire a Celebrity as a Speaker for Your Event
For corporate events, keynotes, conferences, seminars, shareholders meetings, expos, a celebrity speaker can be a big draw for your event.
Former Presidents, business leaders, authors, all can lend credibility to your event and take it to the next level whether it is for a keynote speech, meet and greet, workshop or panel with a Q and A session.
So what do you need to know?
First, if you want an A lister like a former President, it is going to cost top dollar. Many speakers in this category charge around $200k, give or take. If your event can't include this in your budget there are still many options available.
The celebrity speakers circuit works slightly differently and is actually a little easier to book than endorsement deals because there are less steps - a little due diligence from the celebrity's team, a check to see if the dates are available and a (relatively) simpler appearance contract is all that it takes to set up the initial booking. After that point the work really begins, however. This page will give you many of the things you need to take care of depending on what type of event you want the celebrity for.
Due Diligence Phase
This used to be relatively unimportant because most celebrity speeches or appearances were simple one-off’s with no video, and maybe a few pictures, but now there is a little more homework for both sides to do. For the celebrity, they have to be able to answer the following questions positively in order to proceed:
Does this organization or company have any negative aspects to it that could affect my own press or career?
Is it a fly by night company?
Does this company exploit workers in any way, either in the US or overseas?
Is the company’s product controversial?
Does the current political climate mean I should hold off from speaking there right now?
Does the company requesting my appearance have ties to the media that will hurt any other press or publicity that I am doing?
Are there any non-profit organizations that I support who are opposed to this company/conference/seminar/event?
Were there any recent scandals from any of the corporate officers of this organization that appeared in the media?
If you submit your request and simply don’t get your calls returned, something happened in this part of the process and you may never know exactly why they won’t appear for you. Just move on and find a different speaker.
Many of the above questions can be simply reversed to look at the due diligence process from the other side:
- Is this celebrity supporting any non-profits or politicians that we or our customers don’t agree with, or that can negatively impact us in any way?
- Are there any recent scandals about this celebrity in the news? How bad?
- Do the fans and followers of this celebrity approve of our company? Do the demographics match?
- Do the places where we do the majority of our advertising and media approve of this celebrity? Will we have trouble with placing our advertising as a result?
- Can we afford the speaking fee and does it make sense for us?
- Are the celebrity’s political views radically different from our customers or ours?
- Will the content be fresh and engaging? Will it help our event?
I am sure you can think of others, but these are the main ones.
Contracts, Payments, and Negotiations
Because speaking engagements are more straightforward than endorsement deals it is usually much faster to set up once the due diligence phase is over. The bigger the celebrity the slower everything moves, for B and C list celebrities this whole process can sometimes be as simple as agent checks the dates, gets the okay from the celebrity, and then sends over their stock contract for a simple appearance. Bigger celebrities sometimes take longer.
Keep in mind for a speech or appearance like this, don’t make it complicated. You want a simple fee ideally including all expenses for the appearance so that you don’t get surprised later.
Celebrities and their agents don’t really care how much money you are making from your event, how much you collected, how much you sold, or what your expenses are, or the long term extra money you are going to make or lose. They just want their fee and that is it. The appearance fee should include their transportation, security, insurance, and any other staff they may need. Generally not included will be food and beverages, or the lodging/hotel costs for the green room, and private and public meet and greet areas. Those will be your responsibility. Different celebrities work slightly differently in their agreements, but the simpler you can make the agreement and the fee, the better.
A word of common sense here, do not start the negotiation process if you do not have some funds set aside for your appearance. Many agreements are just sign the contract, pay by wire transfer. If you start, work out part of the agreement and then can’t pay, you will lose credibility with the celebrity’s gatekeepers and then no one will be able to resurrect the deal and none of your calls will be returned.
In the contract itself usually the celebrity will have the option of rescheduling or refunding your money at their option. That is just how it works, which is why it is good to have a couple alternates in mind for your event and not be totally stuck on one celebrity.
Negotiations and Timing - Getting the Right Celebrity at a Better Price
Everything is always negotiable, and if you catch the right celebrity at the right time you might be able to get a little break on their fee. For instance if they are going through a divorce, have to pay alimony or a tax bill, or want to buy a new car, they might do your appearance where they would otherwise turn it down, or accept what you are offering when they would usually charge twice as much. If they are going to be in the city where the event is being held this also helps the negotiations enormously.
This is where doing a little extra due diligence and knowing more about your celebrity can pay off. Also, if you start the process with more than one celebrity you may find one that is just easier to work with. Remember their agents are always trying to find work for them, and will know if one celebrity really “wants the work” over another.
Events with celebrities have a few unique twists, you can find out about some of them here. For a business person, these can add up to substantial additional costs to the appearance fee you are paying, and you should account for these in your planning. They are essential to having the celebrity at the event, and also maximizing the value of the appearance for you.
If you would like help getting any celebrity as a speaker for your event, call us at 888-359-4521 today.
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