celeb pr

A celebrity spokesperson could be just what you need to get your product in front of the right audience and boost your branding efforts. However, like anything else, there are pros and cons to weigh before you choose a celebrity to market your product and/or services. With that in mind, below are some market trends as they relate to the do and don’ts of hiring a celebrity for branding purposes.

Savvy Consumers
Bombarded with messaging and commercials their entire lives, today’s consumers are wise to many PR and marketing strategies. For most people a celebrity spokesperson does not automatically generate trust because of the perception that a celebrity’s endorsement has been bought, not earned (not to mention whether the celebrity actually uses the product). Most members of your target audience start out as skeptics and must be converted into believers.

Do. As you approach celebrities for possible endorsement, ask them to use your product or service as part of their decision-making process. The hope is that the celebrity will buy-in. This will lend credibility and enthusiasm to the endorsement and will satisfy your target audience’s inner skeptic.
Don’t. In your initial search for a celebrity spokesperson, don’t limit yourself to one candidate, but many. Having more than one person to use and evaluate your product for themselves allows you to choose the candidate who will most genuinely and enthusiastically endorse your product.

Brand Conflict
Celebrities have their own “brand,” which could compete with your product’s identity. Even if your celebrity spokesperson has a positive image, a marketing campaign that is overshadowed by the spokesperson’s personal brand won’t be unsuccessful for your product, no matter how many retweets, views or likes it generates. That’s because a larger-than-life spokesperson will make every appearance or endorsement about himself or herself instead of about your product. If your celebrity develops a negative image through scandal or other means, your brand no doubt will take a hit and you may find yourself in crisis mode. Just ask Subway.

Do. Be thorough in your research. Read profiles online and posting activity. Be sure to read and understand other sites and causes that a potential spokesperson may have “liked” or tweeted about. Especially important are their posts on who they stand with or support. Look at every article and headline in every media format. In short, be thoroughly familiar with your potential spokesperson’s brand and don’t give due diligence short shrift.

Don’t. Your target audience defines the type of celebrity spokesperson who will most effectively communicate your product’s benefits, so don’t fall into the trap of choosing a spokesperson based on your personal preferences. What’s considered scandalous for one group may be a rallying point for another.

Audience Appeal
Because consumers already trust and identify with your celebrity spokesperson, your product will gain acceptance with your target audience more quickly than it would have otherwise. For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly know and understand your target audience. Each generation has its own heroes. Additionally, demographic groups within a given generation identify with different public figures. What qualifies for celebrity status in one group may not even register with another.

Do. Thoroughly explore the attitudes and values of your audience(s). Research the types of movies they see (especially their favorite movies from their high-school years; nostalgia can have strong appeal). Remember, not all celebrities hail from the big screen (or even the small screen, TV). Celebrities come from every walk of life: sports, religion, politics, armed services and, increasingly, YouTube. The broader your target audience, the wider appeal your spokesperson will need to convey.

Don’t. Your favorite celebrity may be virtually unknown to your target audience. Don’t make the mistake of seeking out your teen idol to promote your product. Unless you are representative of your target audience, that expensive celebrity endorsement will fail to generate legitimate results for your product.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great article. Fun to read, well-written and packed with cutting-edge insights and solid, practical advice.

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