Parties and Charity events work differently, if your event is informal and more like a party you can find those rules here. These guidelines are geared for paid celebrity endorsements for business events.
Seminars, grand openings, conferences, sales meetings, annual meetings, and investor events, all are fair game if you want to hire a celebrity to do an appearance for you.
First however, a few ground rules:
Please do not waste a celebrities time with free appearance requests, or even charities.
Time is money for a celebrity, and it costs them a lot more than you would think to come to your event. They have much higher costs than the average person. Limos, hair, makeup, big wardrobes, security, all that adds up, so for an average person to drop by your event, it might not cost them much, but for a celebrity, just showing up can be quite expensive.
The “business” of being a celebrity has overhead just like you do.
As a business person, you understand that no one truly gets anything for free. Unlike “Content Marketing” or “Influencer Marketing” there is nothing quite so fast as getting a deal signed today with a celebrity, using good old cash.
Even if you do manage to find influential bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers, and YouTube stars, the ones with followings big enough to move the needle, well, guess what? – Yes, thats right – They want to be paid, too!
So we won’t belabor this any further, you get the idea. Let’s move on to other ground rules for getting a celebrity to a business event, and getting your deal done.
It is much better to create the event first and then match the celebrity to it, rather than to create a business event completely around a celebrity.
Most of the time in your contract there will be a clause that states that the celebrity can reschedule or refund your money at their discretion, and these contracts are commonly honored.
That doesn’t help you if you have already booked the hall, the caterers and have franchisees already flying in from all over the country. So, the first rule is to try to be flexible, and have 2-3 possible alternates. Celebrities lives are a little less predictable than most business people, and things can change, that’s just the way it is. This has nothing to do with professionalism, most celebrities are consummate professionals, and do everything they can to live up to what is expected of them or they don’t stay working in this business for long. So, moral of the story, match the celebrity to the event rather than the other way around if you can.
Make sure that the following of the celebrity actually does match your business, in demographics, and whatever positioning the celebrity is known for. We have many ways to check for this which you can find more about here.
We have had people with small local businesses whose primary customers are men, want us to get Oprah for them. Not only does this not make sense financially, the demographics are wrong. Part of doing a deal like this, is to really make sure that all the opportunities are maximized, and that there is a big long term value to your business. The right match is critical in this regard.
So, before starting, map out your tentative dates, locations, other entertainment, caterers, sound system, fixtures, banners, all the things you need for your event.
They don’t have to be completely perfect, but you definitely don’t want to have to change the dates much before finalizing the contract, otherwise you risk losing credibility with that celebrity and their agent. This can mean losing the deal. Be professional.
Many celebrities are managed by the same agency or agent, so do your homework, be prepared, and you will stand a much better chance of getting your deal inked.
If you want to have the celebrity give or get an award, say a few words, do a live interview, or an outright speech, there is one thing all these have in common – good audio, and a sound system.
Do not just rely on whatever the venue usually provides, make sure you have a professional sound or video company with references take care of this for you. Nothing is worse the microphone “feedback” or finding out later that the video didn’t record or that people couldn’t hear the remarks the celebrity made.
This is an area that will be your responsibility.
Photos and videos from the event are often one of the most important long term values from doing one of these deals, and if you do this right you will be able to leverage this extra credibility for your business for literally years, maybe decades to come.
Don’t be shortsighted and fail to make sure you have future sales and public relations material. There are so many things to do in getting an event together, that this area can be overlooked.
Think of it as a potential business asset with potential future value and treat it as such.
Photos, videos, and using the Celebrities likeness in future promotions need to be put into the contract and will be a separate point, do not forget this, but it is useless to have something in a contract, pay for it, and then not be able to take advantage of it because of poor advance planning on your part.
Many people think of the main stage sound system (if the event has a stage) but they forget that there may be another place that is just as good or better for photos, a “meet and greet”. This area should have a smaller sound system but also provide for good lighting, and where the celebrity can be clearly heard and seen. There should be another more intimate area for photos that is prepared this way in addition the the main stage or other main appearance location.
The “green room” is a room where only the celebrity and the event sponsors can go.
Generally the contract should say what the celebrity expects to have in the green room.
What kind of food, water, anything else the celebrity needs and it is usually written into the contract itself. Commonly the celebrity will need to change clothes, see how they look in the mirror, touch up hair and makeup, etc.
This is part of what they need to look and feel their best for you, and to do their part to help make your event a success.
Most agreements will require you to provide this. As an aside, most major hotels have facilities for this, plus nice back entrances into all the conference rooms and lecture halls, which is why you see so many different celebrity appearances at conferences.
Depending on what kind of event you are doing keep this in mind. This is why outdoor events are sometimes the hardest to put together. Hotels are a great backup plan, and they generally make the green room part much easier. No matter what kind of event you are doing however, you will need to think of an area that can serve as a green room and will be off limits to everyone else.
C list celebrities often have no security at all, most often however, the celebrity will have their own security personnel, and their cost is paid by you and is part of the contract for their appearance fee.
This is why its usually better to negotiate a flat rate instead of a “fee plus expenses” since sometimes the expenses can shock you, security being one of them. This is part of the game, and security is a necessary part of getting your deal done. One other aspect of security that isn’t mentioned is this, make sure that your event accounts for easy private access from the green room to wherever they are supposed to appear, and also easy private access to the “meet and greet” or photo/video area.
Staging, Logos, Banners, and Signage
These things all need to be specifically stated in the contract. If you are going to be hiring a famous band to play, sometimes they have a rider which states that their logo, not yours, must be behind them at all times while they are playing. Obviously the celebrity standing next to your logo, banner, or product can be a powerful thing and you want to make this count. Don’t be afraid of asking for the celebrity appearing and being photographed with your logo in the background or whatever will help your business purpose, and make sure it is clear to both parties.
Most of the time the celebrities will be very accommodating, keep in mind that this is also future value for you. Don’t blow it by failing to get the items ordered from the printer, event planning company, fixture company, etc. In hotels and convention halls there are also people that will need to know what you are doing and planning, make sure they understand fully the design and layout you have in mind.
In working with many clients, while we are not event planners, we do see some of the same mistakes being made many times. Make sure that EACH place the celebrity is going to be, that you have prepared the area beforehand, otherwise opportunities get missed. The minimum you have to really work to prepare is:
The Green Room
The Meet and Greet Area
The Photo Op Area
The Main Stage, Appearance, or Speaking Area
You may also want a small intimate “Private Meet and Greet” area where just the event sponsors or partners can have some one-on-one time with the celebrity, and this also should be prepared, thought out and arranged beforehand.
PHOTO OPs, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, PINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM
In the contract itself, if agreed, you can have the celebrity post to their social media while AT the event. This is a separate point in the contract, but again you will want to have in mind the best physical space to use, and prepare it with lighting, backdrops, private entrances, exits, and security.
Total Time or Time Range
In your contract or agreement, there will be both a minimum and maximum time for the total appearance. You must be prepared beforehand with the event schedule, and be aware that the celebrity is there to do their job, but that job does not include waiting around for hours or staying there all night, unless of course that is in the contract. Most contracts are pretty reasonable, but they can’t make up for poor planning on your part.
You must be ready, and run your event on time or close to it.
PAYMENTS and CONTRACTS
With any of these appearance deals, you are going to have to pay by wire, in advance.
If something happens with the celebrity’s schedule, usually they will have the option to reschedule or refund your money at their choice.
There are exceptions, but that is generally how it works. No celebrity’s agent is going to take a chance on having someone sign a contract, give a credit card and charge it back a day after the appearance.
Escrow services are just a little too cumbersome in this business generally. They might be used in huge endorsement deals sometimes, but not with most corporate events. So, you are going to have to budget for this, and be prepared to pay on time according to your contract.
Our lawyers want us to say emphatically that this is NOT LEGAL ADVICE, but remember that under current American law according to the FTC the paid endorser/endorsee relationship MUST BE DISCLOSED. You can find our executive summary of the most important points relating to your celebrity endorsement contract here
There are other links from that page to what we feel are the most important legal matters that you must make sure are taken care of in the contract, and to satisfy the government, if you think you don’t look good in stripes.
Part of the reason that big companies do press releases and events announcing an endorsement deal of a celebrity or athlete, is that if the endorser/endorsee relationship is up front, and publicly known, the public isn’t being tricked, and can make their own decision. This applies not just to events but to the entire endorsement contract.
Doing an “announcement event” ends up being a sort of promotion in itself, which is another reason big companies do it.
Your attorney can and should advise you on what you should do in your particular situation, but the above link will help you get your essentials together. Absolute minimum in our opinion is doing a press release before the event, so you have something to show that you attempted to make the relationship clear before the event and any subsequent social media takes place. Again this is not legal advice, you will have to do your own due diligence for your locality.
It is impossible on one webpage to generalize for all corporate or business events, since they can be much different in size and character.
All these agreements are not 100 percent set in stone and each celebrity or athlete can
be different in the way they approach these events. All the information above are guidelines that will cover you in a majority of situations, but don't be afraid to ask and clarify each point. It is not our purpose here to scare you, but to give you an idea of how these deals work, and help you get your deal actually inked.
We want you to make the most of the fantastic opportunity you have.
If you have questions, contact us today and we will be happy to try to answer them for you!