5 Tips for Securing Celebrity Speakers

By Kelsey Ogletree, April 7, 2014

In September, actor and director Kevin Spacey will take the stage for the closing keynote at Content Marketing World, the Content Marketing Institute’s annual conference, in Cleveland. The reason, says Kelley Whetsell of Meeting Demands and the event’s planner, is that he’s sort of an expert in the field, believe it or not. Back in August 2013, Kevin Spacey delivered a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival in London that took the content marketing world by storm,” says Whetsell. “He was talking about the struggles to get a television network to pick up his series, ‘House of Cards.’ It was Netflix that took a chance on the series, and they created a groundbreaking distribution model by releasing the whole series on one day.” Spacey went on to speak about how to give people quality content in the ways they want it, and the speech resonated with content marketers. It wasn’t long before Whetsell and her team reached out to Spacey’s talente management, working on a speaking agreement.

Hiring a celebrity speaker doesn’t guarantee increased attendance, but it has its upsides. “The amount of traffic generated to your website through the promotion of a big name increases significantly,” Whetsell says. “It’s important to use all of your media channels to maximize your reach and exposure.” Whetsell shared what she considers her five most important tips to think about if you’re planning to secure a celebrity figure for an upcoming event.

1. Make sure there’s a connection. Spacey is a content marketer, in a way, though the connection isn’t immediately obvious. But when you’re looking for a big name, you have to make the connection to your audience and content.

2. Know your budget. You have to know how much you’re willing to spend before you begin reaching out to potential speakers. Fees and terms for talent vary greatly.

3. Fully outline the scope of your project. When you approach a potential speaker, clearly identify what you expect of them. Are they just presenting? What is the format for the presentation? Do they need to do a meet and greet with your audience? Are they expected to do press interviews?

4. Study a speaker’s schedule. If you are considering an actor or entertainer for your session, you need to know if they are touring or are in active production on a television series or movie. That can knock the candidate out of the running right away and help you identify a different target.

5. Don’t be afraid to negotiation. Even celebrity speakers are willing to bend a little in terms of agreements and pricing.


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