PR for celebrities, success has a lot to do with creating a buzz. In most cases, celebrities turn to public relations firms to make sure the buzz is happening and the buzz is positive. That task is commonly known as celebrity public relations. It involves publicists developing and carrying out strategies designed to secure a wide range of media coverage for their celebrity clients.
Celebrity PR utilizes the same tools and tactics that a PR professional would rely on for any client. It also pursues the same primary goal: building a positive reputation through positive exposure in a wide range of media outlets. However, there are some nuances that are important to note. For the most part, these nuances are related to the very public lives that most celebrities live.
Main quality of a publicist for celebrities
Celebrities are public figures. Anything they do, from walking the red carpet to walking the dog, can be considered news. In other words, they are always “on.” They work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Managing media relations for a celebrity involves the same hours. As a result, there are some critical qualities that celebrity PR firms must have.
First, they must be alert and responsive. Celebrity news can break at any time. When working with celebrities, PR professionals must track press coverage as well as encourage press coverage. If they are not available to respond when unexpected opportunities or reports arise, they will not be able to effectively serve as a link between a celebrity and the press.
Second, they must be flexible. A celebrity’s schedule is unusual and unpredictable. In addition, most every item on their calendar will be an event that involves press. Representing a celebrity and promoting their reputation will involve some level of involvement with those events.
Thirdly, they should be accountable. A celebrity PR strategy should define goals and tactics in a way that allows the client to know what to expect. Quality PR has measurable results, regardless of the client. A PR firm that commits to help a celebrity to improve his or her public image should be able to show data that proves success.
Celebrity public relations is proactive and reactive
Typically, brands turn to public relations to develop proactive campaigns designed to boost the brand’s public presence and reputation. Most brands fly under the media radar with their only promotion coming from marketing ads. They engage with PR as a way to proactively gain media exposure. Outside of the press releases and pitches they issue, they rarely attract the attention of media platforms.
Celebrities, due to the nature of their work and the fame it brings, often find themselves organically involved in the media. This is more true than ever in the age of social media. While they will utilize PR to proactively boost their organic media attention, they sometimes must use PR campaigns to react to negative media exposure. This is commonly known as crisis management.
Public relations for celebrities involves crisis management
Crisis management is a component of every PR strategy. When a brand faces a crisis, such as a digital security breach, it requires a crisis management strategy, often developed or managed by a PR firm, to address the resulting negative media attention.
Because celebrities live in the public eye, their potential for attracting negative media attention is much greater than the average business or brand. Any behavior that is clearly out of character can have a significant career impact. Even misunderstood activity, if not properly addressed, can cause a crisis. In many cases, celebrities can find themselves the subject of damaging headlines for “news” that is no more than a rumor. As a result, celebrity PR firms must have a strong reputation for crisis management. Their job often involves keeping a celebrity’s behavior, whether actual or supposed, from being labelled a scandal.
In general, crisis communication will involve efforts to address and contain the crisis prompted by media reports. This involves a good deal of wisdom and experience, but often is built upon taking steps to communicate with honesty about the situation and, when appropriate, acknowledge responsibility. If you would like more information on crisis management, see this post on Crisis Management and Why Every Brand needs a Crisis Management Plan.
PR Celebrities focuses on national exposure
With very few exceptions, celebrities come to a PR agency seeking national exposure, if not global exposure. Their business, whether film, music, sports, or something else, is typically a global business. As a result their expectation will be a PR strategy that can secure national or global publicity.
For celebrities evaluating PR teams, it is important to confirm that they have frequent success with achieving that level of exposure. This can include top-tier press coverage in both print and video.
Public relations for celebrities demand multi-platform access
Celebrity PR can also involve more media channels than what is typically required for a non-celebrity client. A brand often has the PR goal of achieving relevance within its field. A cryptocurrency project, for example, will seek to connect with a target audience that will support it and promote it to crypto enthusiasts and investors.
With a celebrity, the goal is fame. When aspirations include becoming a household name, the target audience is much broader. Consequently, the expectation will be exposure across a wider range of media outlets. For celebrities, this means they should seek to work with celebrity PR managers who have proven success with getting clients coverage in a wide range of media outlets. Beyond the standards magazines, newspapers, and news shows, exposure should include that involving podcasts, YouTube and other social media platforms, influencers, and live events.
Pro Tip: If your celebrity career is on the rise, one important step you can take to make sure that you keep control of your public relations is securing a verified account on social media channels. Whether it is TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook, having a blue check mark associated with your account can keep others from hijacking your social presence by launching imposter accounts. As you establish a relationship with a PR firm, ask what they can do to secure a verified account for you. If you want more information on that, check out these blog posts on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook: How to Get Verified in 2021 and How to Get Verified on Instagram: 3 Steps to Get a Blue Check in 2022.
Public relations for celebrities requires select media contacts
Every industry has top media influencers. They are the outlets or journalists whose words carry the most weight on a particular topic. When it comes to securing effective PR, brands should make sure the firms with which they work have access to their industry’s top influencers. This is especially true for celebrities.
One reason media contacts are key in celebrity PR is that timing is especially important when it comes to celebrity media efforts. Celebrities need positive media exposure when their projects — things like books, films, and songs — are being released. If they do not have media access in those key moments, they lose control of the narrative. Good PR controls the narrative of any brand by making sure that the right stories are shared in the right places at the right times.
The best PR firms for celebrities will be those who have and maintain great media contacts with the most influential outlets. If you are a celebrity researching PR firms, let them know the outlets that you expect to have access to and let them tell you how they will deliver that access.
Public relations for celebrities must keep an eye on cancel culture
In 2022, cancel culture has the potential to be a celebrity’s worst nightmare. Each year, the list of celebrities whose careers were significantly damaged when they were “cancelled” grows longer. While responding to these cultural boycotts can fall under the heading of crisis management, PR professionals can serve celebrity clients in a proactive way when it comes to cancel culture.
The most important step when it comes to avoiding cancel culture is staying in tune with cultural expectations. PR professionals provide celebrities, as well as any brand, with expertise in knowing what news is the right news for building a positive reputation. In many cases, celebrities have been negatively affected by cancel culture because they proactively shared things that went against the current cultural expectations. Good PR management has the potential to identify issues and reshape media engagement to avoid run ins with cancel culture.
For more information on avoiding the negative consequences of cancel culture, check out this blog post on 9 Tips for Protecting Your Brand from Being Canceled.