By: Chey Bell, Account Manager
Securing publicity for a startup company or introducing a new product in an unfamiliar market can be extremely challenging. You must find a way to educate the consumer about the industry and the benefits of your product. However, activating traditional PR tactics alone may not be enough to do both, which is why you should consider partnering with a well-known personality.
Based on the affiliation, a celebrity will provide a legitimate endorsement to a fan base of loyal followers. It provides the perfect strategy for introducing new ideas because the buy-in is intrinsic.
In 2015 the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, was quoted saying that partnering with Michael Jordan was the best decision he ever made. Although Nike was an already successful company, partnering with Michael Jordan undoubtedly helped turn Nike into a global phenomenon. However, it is important to keep in mind that while a celebrity partnership will help launch new products and propel established brands, the approach must be well thought-out.
Here are some preliminary things to consider:
Choose the right celebrity
Choosing the right personality is imperative for any successful partnership. To create the most authentic collaboration, choose celebrities whose values align with your clients brand messaging. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for Michael Jordan to promote baby products, would it? Aside from the obvious, there are a series of qualifying questions you should consider before you partner with an entertainment figure such as: are the demographics of the celebrities fan base consistent with the clients’ target market? Can they deliver the client’s message effectively? Is the entertainer associated with any past issues that could negatively impact the client’s brand? Alternatively, what other products do they represent that my client may perceive as a competitor? It’s all about authenticity; the connection between that talent and the brand must be seamless.
Consider the budget
The budget is an essential element when deciding to work with a celebrity. The number of resources will determine the level of talent, the duration of the partnership and ultimately the type of activities you can coordinate.
A-list celebrities are the most coveted and often yield the highest level of engagement. They can help bring immediate attention to your brand with a single tweet, or a broadcast interview, and help build a loyal consumer base over time. However, working with a celebrity of this caliber does not come cheap; they may require an investment in the hundreds of thousands to even millions of dollars annually.
If you’re launching a new version of an existing product, you can employ more traditional PR tactics and rely less on the influence of your celebrity. However, when introducing a new product and complex concepts, the slow and steady route is best. You’ll want to plan and allow time for a more organic consumer buy-in. Moreover, if the product you’re introducing is from a new or unknown industry, the level of commitment must be even more significant. You will first need to raise awareness about the unknown sector before consumers can understand the relevance. This can be done by launching a series of surveys, various PSA’s, have the celebrity author a book, partner with a charity, or integrate the celebrity into the company’s various marketing campaigns. Building awareness is a critical first step; your clients’ product may offer a solution to a problem, the consumers may be hesitant if they are not first made aware of the problem the product solves. Once you’ve established awareness and prove that there is the need for the product, you have successfully created the demand. In this case, the payoff can be tremendous.
When working with a limited budget, you’ll need to set realistic expectations and be incredibly creative with your approach. If your client has high expectations but can’t afford to make a hefty investment, you’ll need to consider tactics that require less time from the celebrity and be open to working with lesser known talent. Lesser known talent can be just as useful as the Hollywood elite, but only if you and the client are on the same page about the expected results.
The most effective way to leverage a celebrity partnership is to create an integrated marketing plan that includes public relations, advertising and digital media. By incorporating the celebrity in every aspect, you reinforce messaging through all of the promotional avenues. Whether you choose an integrated approach to getting the word out or not, establishing a solid foundation is critical to achieving the overall goals.
If you fail to garner media attention with an initial announcement, chances are you will have an uphill battle moving forward. If you have a big name talent attached to your product, merely announcing the partnership may generate enough interest to get that ball rolling. If not, be creative in your approach; consider tactics that will organically increase awareness.
Is there a seasonal event,holiday, or significant industry related event taking place where you can create an organic tie-in? For example, if your client is a startup tech company, you may consider announcing your partnership at CES, one of the largest technology trade shows held by the Consumer Technology Associate. This creates the perfect opportunity, and reporters will be onsite covering the latest trends in tech.
There are many ways to launch products, but if you need to educate the consumer about a new industry first, choose tactics that consumers are familiar with, as a way to grab their attention and interest first. Once you have their attention, you can deliver your message. Depending on your brand’s product and target market, using important life events that are already known about your celebrity can generate interest,create exciting opportunities for learning and increase your brand’s visibility!