So you’re putting together an event, and everything’s going well…except you can’t shake the feeling that you need a little something extra to put it over the top. A good event means your guests will have fun and enjoy themselves, but what you want is a great event, the kind that will keep them talking about it for years to come. The question is, how do you do it?
Adding a celebrity guest is a perfect way to take your event to the next level. But you can’t look through the phone book and find just any celebrity — you’ve got to find the right celebrity, and you have to know how to handle the booking process. Today, I’m going to give you some indispensable advice for booking celebrities for your events, so you can turn your good event into a great one. Here’s what to do.
Make Sure It’s A Good Fit
It would be kind of strange to see a “Real World” cast member at an art gallery opening, just like it would be weird if Daniel Day Lewis showed up to a party at a new nightclub. When it comes to your event, some celebrities will be a better fit than others, and it’s up to you to pick the right one.
To ensure a good fit between the celebrity and the event, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. First, know your audience — who are the other guests at the event? The purpose of a celebrity booking is to really wow the guests; if you hire a celebrity that doesn’t resonate with the audience, you’ll have spent a lot of money on something that won’t take your event to the next level.
Second, know your event. For example, is it public or private? A lot of celebrities generally do one or the other; some prefer public events because the extra publicity they get can help them promote a new project, while others aren’t interested in the publicity but will happily attend a private event for the right price.
Figure Out What You Need Them To Do
You might think a celebrity booking means hiring a celebrity to show up, say hi to a few guests, then leave (or find a table and ignore everyone for the rest of the night), but that’s not necessarily the case. That’s the great thing about celebrity bookings: you can shape them to fit whatever you’re looking for. Here are just a few of the potential options:
These kinds of arrangements are what most people tend to picture when they think of celebrity guests. Like the name implies, an appearance means the celebrity is expected to show up at the event, walk around and let themselves be seen by the guests, then depart. Walkthroughs are pretty similar, but with a walkthrough, the celebrity will usually chat with some of the guests and spend a set amount of time (usually 30 minutes to an hour) at the event.
The exact kind of performance can vary depending on the celebrity and their specialty; these arrangements are usually designed for artists or comedians. A performance is a great way to make the celebrity a bigger part of the event, but if you want a performance, you should expect to pay not just for the celebrity to perform, but for all the equipment they’ll need to do it.
Hosting or Speaking
Speaking or hosting arrangements are exactly that: instead of the celebrity acting as a big-name guest at your event, their name is added to the event. In other words, they’re an integral part of the overall event. With hosting arrangements, the celebrity will spend time with guests, make some remarks, and generally mingle throughout the night.
Depending on your budget, you can find the right celebrity to do whatever it is that will enhance the experience of your event. Walkthroughs and appearances are usually the least expensive options, and the price will go up from there. Generally speaking, the more you’re asking the celebrity to do at your event, the more they’ll charge.
Know How To Get In Touch
If you’re hoping to secure a celebrity for your event, the booking process doesn’t actually begin with the celebrity — it begins with their representatives. In most cases, the representative you’ll need to talk to is the celebrity’s agent; sometimes you might work with a manager, but as agents are responsible for all the deals their clients make, odds are you’ll have to go through them.
Finding a celebrity’s agent can be hit-or-miss — you may be able to find it by going to the celebrity’s website or social media profiles, but many celebrities don’t openly post that information. In that case, there are booking agent info databases, which give you the contact information for the official agents of celebrities.
When you do reach out to a celebrity’s agent, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, reach out via email: agents are typically extremely busy, so email is their preferred method of communication. Plus, you don’t want to try to pitch your event on an unsolicited phone call; it’s unprofessional, it takes up too much of the agent’s time, and there’s a decent chance they’ll forget all about the call within a day.
When sending your email, keep it concise. There is a certain format that you need to follow when you are contacting a celebrity agent. They don’t need to know every little detail of the event (at least, not at first), so don’t waste their time with a three-page email. All you need to cover is the who/what/when/where: Who of their clients do you want to book, What do you want them to do, When is your event, and Where is the event taking place? If all goes well, you’ll have an opportunity to provide more detail in future discussions.
Finally, if you’re reaching out to an agent you haven’t worked with before, there’s a decent chance that you’ll need to follow up once or twice before you get a response. Make sure you wait 3-5 business days after your last email before following up — you want to give the agent a chance to read your email before you start checking in for a response. And when you follow up, use the same format you did for the first email: keep it brief.
Consider A Talent Buyer
Maybe you’re stretched too thin trying to get everything else locked down before the event, or maybe you simply don’t know how to contact the agent of the celebrity you’re targeting. In that case, you can also consider hiring a middle agent or a talent buyer.
In a nutshell, middle agents and talent buyers put their clients (i.e., you) in touch with the right people (i.e., the celebrity’s representatives) and facilitate deals. Middle agents can be a good option, especially if you haven’t worked with a particular agent before: some representatives prefer to work with familiar people, and a good middle agent can have solid relationships with agencies that they can leverage to get you what you need.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to spend too much, a middle agent won’t be a good option — middle agents charge a premium (usually 10% or more) for access to a celebrity’s representatives. On top of that, middle agents and talent buyers get paid a commission based on the overall value of the deal you make, which means they’ll be less likely to negotiate on your behalf to try to drive the price down.
On the other hand, if you have the money and don’t mind the additional cost, a middle agent or talent buyer can make the booking process run a lot more smoothly, which will free you up to focus on other aspects of your event.
So there you have it: the main things you need to know about booking celebrities for your event. With these tips, you can feel confident that no matter what kind of event you’re putting together, you’ll be able to bring in the kind of celebrity that will transform it from fun to legendary.
Billy Bones is the founder of Bookingagentinfo.com, which provides celebrity contact info for the official agents, managers, and publicists of celebrities. He also runs Celebrity Endorsers, which helps businesses identify celebrities to work with by tracking their endorsement history, interests, and the charities and causes that they support.