On a Thursday in early May, Jennifer Berson let out a giant scream. While watching the Mother’s Day special taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen mentioned Little Giraffe baby blankets, and Berson couldn’t help herself. As president of Jeneration PR, a Sherman Oaks, California-based public relations firm focused on fashion, beauty and lifestyle, she had worked tirelessly at placing her client (Little Giraffe) on the show. This was her moment.
“I was so excited when I heard her call out the baby blankets by name, and say that Angelina Jolie’s children use them, that I started jumping up and down and screaming,” Berson said.
When the show aired, Ellen’s millions of viewers learned that Little Giraffe blankets were synonymous with celebrity children. This was a homerun.
We live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, so when our favorite star is photographed with a new product, we take notice. More over, consumers are looking for validation of a product’s effectiveness, and a celebrity nod can accomplish just that.
“If someone is looking at your product for the first time and haven’t heard much about it, they might be on the fence in terms of buying,” says Melissa Cassera, publicity expert at East Coast-based Cassera Communications. “But if a consumer sees that a celebrity likes your product, it can give the validation you need and can skyrocket your sales.”
Not sure how to get your product into the hands of celebrities? Follow these simple steps:
1. Identify appropriate celebrities
According to Cassera, this is the most important step. Sit down and brainstorm which celebrities would most appreciate your product. If you produce baby rattles, target famous people who are pregnant or just had a child. Learn what causes celebrities are passionate.
“Watch the E! Channel, read Entertainment Weekly and Peoplemagazine,” suggests Cassera. “For example, I know by reading entertainment publications that Alicia Silverstone is a huge environmental activist. If I had a 100 percent organic product, I’d put her on my list.”
Cassera recommends diversifying your list between A, B, C and D-list celebrities so that the further down the alphabet you go, the easier it is to reach the person—and possibly get product recognition.
It’s also important to determine whom not to contact, notes Berson. She recommends first finding out what products the celebrity endorses, just to make sure your item isn’t a conflict of interest.
2. Choose your products
Make sure to send only your very best products—the ones you are looking to sell the most of—to a celebrity, Berson advises.
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“If you send a one-off sample of an older product and a celebrity ends up talking about it or wearing it, you will create consumer demand for something that doesn’t align with your sales efforts—which is just a waste of time,” she says.
3. Find them
This is easier than you think. While Jennifer Aniston’s phone number is likely not listed, her publicist’s number is. That is where to start.
How do you find that number?
“Both of these sites will have a monthly fee, but if you are looking for certain celebrities, you can just find that information and close out your account,” she says, adding to only contact a person’s publicist, not an agent (they won’t call you back).
In addition to calling, business owners can get involved in something called a Celebrity Gifting Suite. This is where several companies put their products in one room during a major event like the Oscars, Emmys, etc. According to Cassera, celebrities will go into these suites and try out various products—with cameras shooting away.
Full disclosure: this can be mighty pricey, and there is no guarantee a star will pick up your product.
4. Place the call
Don’t just send your product—call first.
“Call the publicist and introduce yourself as someone from a specific brand; then ask them if it would be ok if you sent the celebrity a gift,” Berson says. “It is also a good idea to ask if your product conflicts with paid endorsements they may have.”
5. Ship it off
When shipping your product, focus on the packaging. Cassera suggests making the shipment beautiful (and include a hand written note), as if you were sending a loved on a special gift.
Include a self-addressed stamped envelope with a card so the celebrity can send you a thank you note.
Then make sure to use FedEx.
“When something comes from FedEx, it seems more official,” Cassera says.
6. Follow up
Cassera says it is good to wait at least 10 days before making a “gentle follow-up call” to the publicist. If you don’t receive your thank you note back or see a picture of the celeb wearing/using your product, call back in about a month.
“After that, leave it alone,” she says. “There will be celebrities you don’t hear back from, but just look at this as part of your marketing strategy. But if you do hear a response or see a photo, make sure to use that as a testimonial on your website, in your press materials and even in your store. You can also use it to pitch the media on your product. It is nice validation.”