The DOs and DON’Ts of Managing Celebrity Appearances

The DOs and DON’Ts of Managing Celebrity Appearances

By: Allison Carroll

Life surprises you. Thinking back to my time at Virginia Tech studying for my marketing degree, never in a million years would I have suspected I would be managing celebrity appearances as part of my job. Even today, after 12 years of experience, I am still surprised. There is not an event that goes by that someone doesn’t ask me, “How did you get into this?” or, “You have my dream job!” And I agree - I have a pretty cool job. But I also have to remember I didn’t interview for the job of “celebrity wrangler.” To get here I've had to put in years of hard work, gather a ton of experience and, most importantly, win both the client and the celebrity’s trust.

It may seem glamorous to some, but managing these types of events is one of my more challenging responsibilities. Somehow you have to ensure the client, celebrity and guests are happy all while maintaining your cool. Unfortunately there is no guidebook for a successful celebrity appearance, but here are a few DOs and DON’Ts I abide by so they go off without a hitch:

  1. DON’T get wrapped up in the excitement and details, and forget the purpose of the event. Find out what the client is trying to achieve by offering the appearance. Who is attending? This will help you figure out the flow, manage expectations and determine what you will need. 
  2. DO over-communicate with the celebrity’s staff. Attire? Transportation details? VIP attendees? Pull it all together in a perfectly designed minute-by-minute. Contact them the day before to see if they have any questions. 
  3. DON’T ever bring a celebrity to a venue that you haven’t walked through first. Arrive early to work out every detail from arrival to departure. How will they walk in? Where is the signing table located? Will they sit or stand? Are there security issues? Have an exit plan just in case. 
  4. DO be prepared for anything. Make sure the celeb has something to sign, plenty of Sharpies, a tablecloth or backdrop, water and yes, even hand sanitizer (keep that hidden of course). I even make sure I have a clean and large enough vehicle on hand just in case they need alternate transportation. 
  5. DON’T be a fan. Put the “fan hat” away and treat them like your peer. When they arrive, greet them and brief them on the event as if they were a colleague. This builds trust immediately. 
  6. DO stay close and be flexible. Keep an open line of communication with the celebrity and the client during the appearance. Make sure the celebrity is comfortable, but don’t be a nuisance. Watch for signals that they may feel uneasy with a fan or guest, are thirsty or may just need to go to the restroom. Check in with the client if possible during the appearance to make sure it is meeting their expectations. 
  7. DO finish it out. Once the event is done, escort both the celebrity and client back to their vehicle, shake their hand and thank them for coming. This is more important than you realize in building trust and makes them feel taken care of from start to finish. Send a note of thanks to their staff after the event. 
  8. DON’T believe the event was perfect. Write down key learnings. After the event get feedback from the client, venue and staff. Take note of what didn’t go the way you planned and what you can do to prevent it in the future.