By Hannah Coleman
At conference, I had the privilege of listening to Rita Tateel, founder of the Celebrity Source. The Celebrity Source is a booking agency that is all about matching celebrities to PR, marketing and advertising campaigns and special events for both corporate and nonprofit clients.
Rita has been working with celebrities for almost two decades and has an established celebrity community where she is viewed as trustworthy and reliable. Even though she is established in Los Angeles in the entertainment industry, her roots are in nonprofit, social work and child development. Although the fields seem completely unrelated, she credits her schooling for her success. According to Rita, working with celebrities is not always a great experience, but her background in child development helps her deal with them.
“There is an art and science to it,” says Rita, “sometimes, working with a celebrity is like working with a child.”
Rita emphasized that the key to working with celebrities is making them feel secure. Although they appear to be powerful, established and polished, celebrities are “some of the most insecure people on the planet.”
So how do the rich and famous become insecure despite having it all?
“People take advantage of celebrities – and as a result, they become insecure. They don’t know who to trust,” says Rita.
This insecurity is what leads to increasing demands and difficulty when working with celebrities.
Our job as public relations professionals is to make them feel secure. Rita told a story about a time where she was meeting with a celebrity who had just walked off the red carpet after facing dozens of paparazzi with a booger hanging out of his nose. Rita was the first one to tell
him about it and from then on it was smooth sailing. This established a comfortable relationship and the infamous “Booger Principle”.
On top of building trust, you must always be prepared. When dealing with celebrities, time is their most valuable asset. Always have a plan, a backup plan and a backup to the backup plan. If a celebrity feels their time is being wasted, the relationship will be damaged. “Ask for the least amount of time needed to complete your objective,” says Rita.
There are a few tricks to getting celebrities to say yes to your event. First of all, make sure the event matches the celebrity. For example, don’t bring Justin Bieber to an event for senior citizens, bring him to an event for spring break.
Celebrities will be more inclined to say yes to events that are relevant to them. Tom Hanks did this with a handful of movies he starred in. He started to support and care about charities that were relevant to the characters he was portraying in movies.When he starred in Philadelphia, he began to support AIDS related causes. Apollo 13 inspired him to support NASA. Saving Private Ryan inspired him to contribute to veterans associations. He became emotionally invested in these causes.
It is also important to be aware of what media coverage the celebrity is currently getting. If they are involved in a scandal, they are going to want to minimize their time in the spotlight.
Relationships are the key to establishing a strong celebrity network. When you know the publicist or the wife or the personal assistant, your network is strong and more personal.
However, even if you do know all those people, you have to determine which channel is most appropriate for your offer.
The final, and most important thing to consider when booking a celebrity is cost. Booking a celebrity is VERY expensive. They are expecting at least six figures, so don’t bother offering if you can’t afford that expense.
Rita broke it down by level of fame:
At the end of the day, you have to be aware of their wants and needs – it has to be a smooth experience. It is our job to handle all the logistics and make sure all of the details covered. If we make the experience memorable for the celebrity, there is a strong chance a significant relationship will develop.