Friday, July 04, 2008


By AMY FOND, Cameron Communications Inc.

"The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people, they think it's their fault." – Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger has obviously never seen a celebrity drone on endlessly plugging a product. Celebrities may be trained to act or sing – but that doesn't also mean they're automatically trained to be good spokespeople. So how do you make sure the star you're working with - will work for you when it comes to your messaging?
Follow these 5 tips to help ensure success the next time you partner with a prominent spokesperson.

#1 Don't Confuse Success with Succinct: Just because someone's in the public eye and is successful on TV, in the movies, or on the radio – doesn't mean they're a great public speaker. While you may want your celebrity spokesperson to talk about your cause – stations may only want to talk to them about their personal life, their latest movie, or their recent arrest! They need to have the skills to seamlessly switch topics. That's why Media Training a celebrity is a must! They may already have the skills to tackle tough questions – but the more they practice deflecting dangerous topics – the better they'll get. Make sure you work with the celebrity prior to the interview so they know what questions are appropriate to answer, those they don't have to answer, and when and how to bring in your messaging in a credible manner.

#2 Be Wary of the Celeb Seen too Often: I once worked with a famous female, movie star to help her promote a new campaign for a nationwide pet association. Stations loved the segment – the star had recently been in the news and she was great working in her messaging. Two weeks later I was working with her again! This time she was speaking on behalf of a well-known camera brand. Same star, but there wasn't as much appeal. Was the story less newsy than her last appearance? Maybe. But she was starting to become oversaturated. You can guess what happened two months later when she was back to promote a brand of toys - bookings were hard to come by. Make sure you check around to see what other promotional work the celebrity you've partnered with has done. A good time frame is to wait at least 4 months before using that celeb to promote another product.

#3 Play Matchmaker: What leads to the most successful use of a celebrity spokesperson? When the celebrity truly matches the cause or product. Just because someone's famous and can garner attention – doesn't mean they'll garner positive attention for your brand. Example: Using Lindsay Lohan to promote a board game - - probably not the best pairing. A better match would be an example of a female TV-Star I trained for a recent campaign. She had diabetes and was promoting a new injectable therapy for diabetics. The campaign was a hit. She was able to talk about her personal experiences and brought true credibility to the table. So when you're looking for the perfect celeb to pair your product with – just make sure they have nice teeth if they're talking about toothpaste!

#4 Watch out for the Product Pusher: One of the best ways to tank a campaign is if the celebrity looks like they're pushing a product. You want them to be able to stick to their messaging – but not at the expense of looking like they were 'paid to promote.' I know of several stations that hesitate airing campaigns involving a prominent, male, singer. Why? Because his segments come off as commercials: he over mentions the product and turns viewers off. So how do you ensure your celeb doesn't disappoint? A good rule of thumb is to have the celebrity answer or acknowledge the first two questions from the Anchor/Reporter at the start of the interview – then make sure they know how to bring in their messaging by the third question. Let them be a celebrity in the beginning to help hook viewers. If they're media trained to bring in their messages – they will, and should, by the third question, to avoid looking like a salesman.

#5 Don't Forget Fame Can Mean Fuss: Why did a Satellite Media Tour with a famous, female, performer fail the morning of? There weren't hard-boiled eggs on-site. I'm not kidding. It somehow fell through the cracks that the celeb had requested hard-boiled eggs the morning of the tour, and when they weren't there, she was cranky and uncooperative. So why waste the good training and invested time because of an un-soothed ego? Double check lists, ask if they have their own make-up artist or if they need one, find out about dietary concerns, and make sure the celeb knows the timing of the day and how long the day may stretch. And don't forget the hard-boiled eggs!

Amy Fond is a Media Trainer and Presentations Coach with Cameron Communications, Inc. She's been interviewing and working with celebrities as a Journalist and Media Trainer for more than a decade. For more information: www.mediatrainer.tv or amy@mediatrainer.tv

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