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Celebrity spokespeople: why we love them and hate them

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You have your research, your story and Radio Day all planned, great- but you’re only half way there. One of the most important steps is to ensure that you have the best spokesperson that matches your brand’s demographic well and can relate to the story in hand.

Using a celebrity spokesperson is not ideal for every story but if you’re targeting a young demographic and want widespread coverage then the investment may well be worthwhile. Here are some things to keep in mind when making that decision.

Popularity

Celebrity endorsement can be hugely influential. A well-known celebrity with strong opinions and a bubbly personality can encourage people to listen to the interview just because it’s a recognisable name and voice.  So that’s good for the broadcaster’s viewing figures and it’s fantastic in PR terms.

Reputation

Be careful; don’t just choose any celebrity as this could have an adverse effect- linking a celebrity who has a bad reputation, or has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons may have an negative impact, even if it makes broadcasters take your story. In this case, the coverage could be good but the key message to listeners may not be, regardless of what the celebrity says. And don’t rule out the eccentrics! They can be attractive to broadcasters who love a bit of controversy and strong opinionated interviewees.

Availability

A contract with a celebrity should make clear when they’re expected to show up! Most broadcast PR opportunities are earlier in the day rather than later – breakfast interviews can be from 0700, sometimes even before that, so make sure your contract includes a start time. For a Radio Day, you’d want to block out around 4 hours, but if you’re expecting the celebrity to do TV interviews as well you obviously need to add in additional time.

Make it clear if you’re expecting them to do live as well as pre-recorded interviews – this avoids any red faces on the day when it will be you telling the broadcaster the celeb is not available after all.

Be sure that you block out a few hours in the Radio Day when the celebrity is completely available to do a block number of ISDN interviews (if radio) or has the time/flexibility to travel to do TV interviews.

It would not be recommended to use a certain spokesperson if they were only available for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. Celebrities can sometimes be less available and not as reliable with their time management. It would be a shame to miss out on good coverage because the celebrity was not free early in the morning because they were partying all night for instance. Getting breakfast coverage is usually the most desirable so this would be a missed opportunity!

If you really want to use a certain celebrity for TV interviews but they are only available for a short amount of time, it would be a good idea to provide B-roll to broadcasters, so one interview could be distributed to a number of broadcasters. Journalists are very busy people so this may be an appealing option to some of them. B-roll is 5 – 10 minutes of roughly edited video footage that illustrates a story. It’s given to broadcasters free of charge and any copyright issues, in the hope it will encourage them to run the story.

Other Work

It’s important to ensure that your spokesperson has not done any (or little) broadcast work in the weeks leading up to your Radio Day. You could have the perfect representative, but if they’ve done interviews on stations recently then this could impact your chance of coverage – broadcasters would not be interested in speaking to someone they have interviewed the other day, even if it is about a different topic. Alternatively, it could lead the journalist/ presenter to speak to your spokesperson about the subject of the last interview, therefore going off your topic and reducing the chances of getting your client’s brand mentioned.

Your celebrity spokesperson should sign a contract with you before the Radio Day/ TV interviews agreeing not to do any work with other brands. If you use a celebrity that is also linked to ten other brands then listeners/ viewers may well be aware of this and it could even put people off if they think the interview is an obvious brand endorsement.

Using a celebrity as your spokesperson can be a good thing, encouraging more broadcasters to book in, attract listeners/ viewers and make them want to buy the brand your representing’s product. In the long run this could make your client see the long terms effects of the good coverage you’ve provided for them and increases the chances of future work. But be aware of the drawbacks mentioned… other work they may also be doing, their demands, reputation and availability. Keeping these things in mind will help you decide who the best spokesperson is for you.

For more media relations advice, please download our guide or call us on 0207 240 7373.

 

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