How to Get a Celebrity to Your Event
Almost everyday someone askes me: “How can I get a celebrity to attend my event?”
Not an easy question to answer, especially with the slumping economy …but from experience, here’s what I’ve learned…The most important thing is to be a registered nonprofit. Most, if not all, athletes and celebrities won’t touch you unless you’re registered. Unfair, maybe. But since 9/11 a plethora of fakers have popped up to ruin it for those who really are out to do good. There’s really no way around this unless, of course, your best friend is a baller and wants to back you. Which brings me to a massive black-eye in the celebrity charity world…athletes and their foundations. Although not exclusive to athletes, many feel the need to put their cousin or girlfriend in charge of their foundation…Oh god-where do I start? I once flew out of state to attend an event for which I was fully-credentialed for, and when I got there, the 20-year-old gum chewing Foundation PR bimbo handed me a general admission ticket and said ‘this is your credential’…after realizing all the lights weren’t on with this girl, I left with an incredibly bad taste left in my mouth about this particular ‘super-star’ athlete-why would he have someone on his payroll who couldn’t differentiate between a media pass and a general admission ticket? All I can say is leave it to the professionals people…I could spout off a list of celebrities/athletes who’s foundations, PR people, publicists and the celeb themselves couldn’t give a hoot about charity, yet put on an incredibly sincere public persona of a ‘giver’. But I won’t name names, they know who they are…it boils down to character and it’s fairly easy to determine who the good guys are after speaking with those in their camp. Birds of a feather remember?
Once you’re registered as a non-profit, and begin looking for a celebrity to attach to the event, the hard work begins. And don’t be shy. Do your research-find out who the celebrities’ agent, publicist and mangers are. Call them. Email them. Can’t find that info on-line? You’re not trying hard enough! The Internet is your friend…research…find other charities your chosen celebrity might be affiliated with and call them if you need to. The most important thing is to not be shy. Be persistent but polite too. If you get a “no thanks” leave it at that and move onto the next. Can’t find out who represents that baseball player you’d like to attend your event? Simply call the team and ask who his rep is! If you’ve got the passion in your soul to help others, someone will step up and help.
More help for those looking for celebrities to attend their events, comes from celebrity events planning companies. Admittedly, I have NO idea of the cost associated with using one, but I can tell you from experience, this may be the best way to go. And the best of the best is Hollywood Knights International.
After attending many, many events, I can say unequivocally, that Hollywood Knights International is one of the best run and most sincere “full-service celebrity events production and promotional firm.”
The company was founded by the Godfather of pairing celebrities with charities- David Mirisch. When David founded the company it was simply called David Mirisch Enterprises. And this was way back in 1973, long before anyone else was luring celebrities to the golf courses for charity. Eventually, David passed the reins to his son Michael, who took over the celebrity basketball team, renamed it Hollywood Knights and just like that, an institution was born.
Currently, the Hollywood Knights are making our troops happy during their annual USO Hawaii Tour, which runs March 16-22…prior to their leaving, I requested to interview them and as they scrambled to pack up gear for the USO Tour, they didn’t brush me off with a “Oh, we’ll talk when we get back” response, but rather-they were excited to share their love for giving-back with my readers.
The full interview can be read on LOOK TO THE STARS…but in part, I asked…
Michael: What was it like to take over as CEO? Growing up with such an incredible role model (David of course) must have been an amazing experience?
“My father is an icon and pioneer in the celebrity fundraising business. He pretty much invented this genre and at 73, he’s still producing events. He is an incredible role model and it’s been a blessing and my good fortune to have him as a father first and foremost, and also a business mentor,” he told me, “He continues to inspire me every single day. I became CEO when I officially took the basketball team under my wing and infused it with young talent that packed the gyms out with screaming fans.”
Current celebrities playing for HKI basketball for the USO Tour include: Aaron Carter (House of Carters); Frankie Delgado (The Hills, Bromance, Keeping up with the Kardashians); Josh Henderson (90210, Desperate Housewives); James Kyson Lee (Heroes); James Lesure (Lipstick Jungle, Las Vegas); Cody Linley (Dancing With The Stars, Hannah Montana); Venom (American Gladiators); Wolf (American Gladiators); and Aaron Yoo (Friday the 13th, Disturbia).
Michael continues: “The majority of the celebrities with whom we work are charitable people in general, and want to give back to the community. It’s not something you can fake,” said Michael, “Most of our events are not paid personal appearances where the stars receive a fee, so when you see a celebrity at a Hollywood Knights event, they are lending their name to the cause itself. We are so grateful to the countless celebrities that have year after year taken the time out of their busy schedules to support our events and the charities that are involved.”
Vicky Mirisch, Director of Marketing/Public Relations for HKI, explained to me the most rewarding aspect of being part of the organization…“That’s an easy question,” she said, “Raising money to help people all over the world through events that incorporate celebrities, fun, and giving back to the community. There is a feeling of incredible satisfaction after every event we produce because we know at the end of the day countless lives are going to change for the better. There is that quote from Emerson that states: “to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, that is to have succeeded.” This quote hangs in our office and we read it every single day. It really sums it all up for us.”
Among the thousands of stars, musicians, and world-class athletes who have devoted their time and influence at Hollywood Knights International events: Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Jessica Simpson, Ashlee Simpson, Mariska Hargitay, Coolio, David Arquette, Michael Landon, Merv Griffin, Muhammed Ali, Joe Dimaggio, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Evander Holyfield, Mark Harmon, Matthew Perry, Tara Reid, Fergie, Backstreet Boys, ‘Nsync, Woody Harrelson, Bruce Jenner, Pat Boone, Mario Lopez, Wilt Chamberlain, Gladys Knight, Sugar Ray Leonard, Olivia Newton-John, Pamela Anderson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tony Hawk, Wayne Gretsky, Jimmy Connors, Mike Tyson, Buzz Aldren, Kevin Sorbo, Boyz II Men, Joe Montegna, Haley-Joel Osment, Judd Hirsch and Cylk Cozart.
Here’s just a sampling of what the Hollywood Knights have planned for this year: The Foothill Aids Project Celebrity Bowling Classic (April 09); Kiwanis Club of Simi Valley Celebrity Golf Classic (May); Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation Celebrity Fishing Tournament (May); A.G.Spanos Golf Tournament (June); Cedars Sinai Sports Spectacular at the Century Plaza Hotel, California (June); Byron Scott Foundation Gala Dinner in Century City CA (August); The K.I.S. Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament (Oct).
For more info and a list of all events, please visit:
HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS INTERNATIONAL
Hopefully, I’ve helped some of you out just a little bit? Remember, register as a non-profit; research publicists, agents, managers and PR firms; be persistent yet polite; and most of all, follow your passion. Whether you chose to hire a promotional firm to garner a celebrity, or do all the leg work yourself, it’s a difficult-yet attainable-task and if you remain tenacious, you will eventually land a celebrity or athlete to endorse your event.
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com