When contemplating using a celebrity to promote an event, one must look no further than college graduations for an example of how this is done. Every year, colleges spend outrageous amounts of money to tempt major speakers to their campuses. Katie Couric, for instance, was paid $110,000 to speak at the University of Oklahoma in 2006, while Jerry Seinfeld is said to charge $200,000. While some can reel in great speakers with the promise of an honorary degree, all colleges have something in common: when considering who would make a good commencement speaker, the college takes into account each potential speaker’s background and beliefs to see if his or her mission aligns with those of the school. For instance, this year, Juilliard chose Joyce Didonato, a celebrated mezzo-soprano. Stanford chose Bill and Melinda Gates.
Likewise, when wondering about using a celebrity to promote your event, the first aspect to consider is their social relevance. Will the celebrity in question be able to convey the event’s agenda? Will the event attendees be able to connect with him or her? There’s no doubt that I’d like to attend a pool party hosted by Kim Kardashian, but a seminar on orthodontics also hosted by her? Probably not. The main role of your event is to engage like-minded people, typically in your same business. If the celebrity can’t get people to participate, he or she is fairly useless.
The second thought to consider is cost. If it is genuinely necessary for you to have Ed Helms at your event, you had better be willing to pay his travel expenses, hotel accommodations, as well as his cost for speaking. Rudy Giuliani is a regular commencement speaker, and is typically paid $100,000 beyond the cost of flying him out in a private jet (First Class is soooo two minutes ago). While hiring a celebrity to promote your event may draw in hundreds or even thousands of people, be aware of the cost of that contribution. Plenty of people would likely show up without that person, but then again, some high investments really are worth the cost.
While the bill of hiring a celebrity may be a point that will deter you from getting one for your event, the media interest your event will attract by using a celebrity is definitely positive. You can promise a baby duck to every attendee in the hopes of getting on the local news, but scoring a celebrity might just flood the papers. Even if your event isn’t open to the public, just getting the attention of the paparazzi is good for business. And for those who are attending, hearing again and again over social media and the TV that the event they are going to has been endorsed by an impressive celebrity, will only make the event all the more interesting. Worried people won’t show up to your quarterly meeting? Celebrity speakers might just motivate those who would normally be dragging their feet.
Of course, using a celebrity to attract people to your event isn’t the only positive role a celebrity can have in your life or company. Interacting with a celebrity, whether through a mutual project, event, or friendly encounter, shows that you have impressive friends, making you impressive by proxy. Post pictures of yourself with your VIP friends on your social media pages and website, or better yet–your newsletter! Tell the story of how you met that person and describe the events that followed. Of course, getting those celebrities to come to or promote your events may just provide the perfect opportunity for a selfie–the perfect picture to accompany your celebrity story!