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Creating a well-designed event is a balancing act. Tapping industry leaders and controversial renegades, orchestrating brilliant panels, and throwing awesome after-parties all help draw people in, but a well-informed celebrity speaker can elevate your event to “can’t-miss” status with real punch and energy.
A well-chosen, well-prepared celebrity speaker can infuse your event’s atmosphere with a sense of excitement. And a celebrity who’s informed, articulate, inspiring, and entertaining guarantees an unforgettable impression.
Choosing the Right Fit
Looking to engage a celebrity for your event? Rule one: don’t get star-struck.
Just because you can score a celebrity speaker — or you’re a big fan personally — doesn’t mean that person is right for your event. In fact, you should consider celebrity speakers exactly the way you’d consider any other kind of speaker: Do their presence, skill set, and expertise fit? And, more importantly, are they relevant to your audience?
By hiring someone who’s the wrong fit, you’re courting disaster. Accidentally offensive jokes, mismatched humor, or a lack of industry knowledge could easily backfire. There’s also simply the awkwardness of a brand clash. You wouldn’t hire Kid Rock to speak at a Lexus engagement, right?
Poor celebrity partnerships can also damage both your company’s and the speaker’s reputation. Paula Deen spoke on behalf of the diabetes medication Victoza, even though she was still cooking incredibly high-fat foods on her television show. The media went haywire with a barrage of negative press aimed at both parties.
Before hiring a speaker, check out your celebrity’s reputation, experience, and expertise — and trust your own instincts. Do your homework. Does it feel right? Find a fit that’s authentic, seamless, and comfortable for both the speaker and your audience.
How Much Is Too Much to Pay?
Beyond finding the perfect fit, there’s another facet to consider when hiring a celebrity speaker: Star power comes with a price. A celebrity’s speaking fee is based on popularity and demand, and those rates can range from four to seven figures, depending on the celebrity and what he or she is being asked to do (e.g., speaking versus performing).
You shouldn’t sacrifice the quality of your event to book a single A-list act. So what is a reasonable amount of money to drop on speaking fees? It depends on your budget, your audience, and your brand.
Apple’s iTunes Festival featured big names like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Elton John. How did Apple justify 30 days of A-list entertainers when they gave away the event tickets for free? Twenty million people registered to attend the live stream, which meant Apple had the opportunity to get its brand in front of a crowd roughly the size of Beijing. That’s the kind of exposure money can’t buy.
Creating a Lasting Impression
Often, this decision boils down to one simple question: Is it worth it? You have to keep in mind the goals of your event, understand your audience’s needs, and recognize what will truly “wow” them. You might not get a hard-and-fast financial return to cover this investment, but you’re paying to create a powerful and memorable experience, and that’s hard to quantify.
Good celebrity speakers inspire action, instil confidence, and invigorate your audience. And, most importantly, they help shape events that attendees will remember. With the right celebrity partnership, you’ll create an impression that lasts for years to come.
Creating a memorable experience pays off for you, your event, your product, and your celebrity speaker. By identifying a great-fitting match and paying an amount that will still pay you dividends, your company can host an event that becomes “can’t-miss” — and is talked about for years to come. That’s the kind of ROI you can’t pay for.
A highly sought-after consultant, mentor, speaker, producer, coach, and author, Kelli Richards is the CEO of The All Access Group. She and her team facilitate strategic business opportunities in digital distribution between technology companies, established artists and celebrities, film studios, record labels, and consumer brand companies in order to foster new revenue streams and deliver compelling consumer experiences. Kelli is also the author of the bestselling eBook, “The Magic & Moxie of Apple — An Insider’s View.”
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