A celebrity endorsement can put your small business or product on the map, but getting a product in a celebrity's hands is just the start. "You don't just want to be able to say the celeb has it, what you want is to know the celeb is using it," says Howard Bragman, founder of Fifteen Minutes, a Los Angeles-based major media and public relations firm to celebrities.
Whether you're looking for a celebrity to mention your product in an interview, get spotted carrying it around town or rave about it via social media, these tips will help you get started:
1. Figure out celebrities' obsessions.
Being deliberately strategic about who you reach out to is your best bet, says Bragman. "Don't just pick a celebrity out of the air," he says. "Do your homework and aim to build a connection with one who uses products like yours instead of cold calling publicists or trying to blanket Hollywood with your product."
If, for example, an actress raves about her smartphone fetish on the red carpet and you've got a great new gadget for phones, it would make sense to send your product to that person. If you have a new service that caters to animal lovers, look for celebrities whose paparazzi photos often include their pets. Pay attention to what celebrities talk about on the red carpet and in interviews to learn what they’re passionate about and how your product might complement that, says Bragman.
2. Show you care about the same cause.
If you really want to tug at their heartstring, reach out to celebrities who directly support causes that match your company's mission, says Bragman. For example, Kirsten Chapman, owner of Kleynimals, an Annapolis, MD-based small business that makes personalized baby toys, admired Jessica Alba whose own small business, the Honest Company, based in Santa Monica, Cal., focuses on offering a green line of safe household products.
Chapman sent Alba a product sample for her baby along with a handwritten note about why she wanted her to have it. "I thought that she would have a unique appreciation for the fact that [Kleynimals] are non-toxic and eco-friendly," says Chapman, who has also been successful in getting invited on Martha Stewart's show in 2012, after sending her a sample of her product in the mail.
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3. Get creative about finding face-time with celebs.
Dana Rubinstein and Tamar Rosenthal, founders of Dapple Baby, a fragrance-free cleaning products line based in Long Island, NY, had a mission to get their baby-specific, green cleaning products into the hands of reality diva Bethenny Frankel, admired by both women.
To form that personal connection, they enlisted Rosenthal's sister-in-law, who lived near the area where Frankel was making an appearance, to give her a bottle of dish liquid during her book signing. "We had her gift Bethenny right on the spot. Not long after, Bethenny tweeted a picture of herself baking cookies in her kitchen and Dapple's dish liquid was right there on her countertop, next to the sink," says Rubenstein.
The result was chatter about Frankel using the product on social media, according to Rubenstein. "Around the time of the tweet, we received an additional 400 page hits, about double the usual traffic," says Rubenstein.
While there's no guarantee your product will wind up in the hands of a celebrity when you send it their way, if it does, you might just see an increase in brand awareness, exposure and sales.
Gina Roberts-Grey is a freelance writer in snowy, but scenic, upstate New York. For more than a decade, she’s covered consumer issues and health topics for Glamour, Family Circle and NextAvenue.org. She’s also interviewed hundreds of celebrities, including Larry King, Trace Adkins, Jessica Alba, Jewel and others.