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From Twitter followings to Facebook fans and a multitude of celebrity-oriented websites, there seems to be no end to celebrity worship.

When promoting a product or service, attaching an athlete or celebrity to the project is one way to break through the clutter — whether via paid advertising, earned media or social media — and can also offer news and social media value. As your celebrity is someone who typically your competition can’t have while under contract with your company, the personality gives you a unique communication platform.

Bringing on a celebrity has its own set of best practices as well.

Be sure your celebrity ties in with your brand or cause.

In a past campaign on heart health, we worked with a celebrity who had heart issues and could speak about the subject matter. When there is a connection, there are better editorial angles to use with the media, richer stories to tell, and more of a willingness for the celebrity to reach out and add value. With social media, credibility is even more important, else they call the celebrity out on “selling out”. Today’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines point to more transparency as well when a celebrity is paid for their work. So be prepared with the disclosure.

Engage in a long-term relationship instead of a short-term fling.

Especially if your project has news value, it’s important to make this a continuing program whenever possible, as it often takes months to build media attention and (hopefully) coverage. Sure, you can accelerate exposure using the social media platform of the celebrity (celebrity Twitter account followers and Facebook fans are a valuable part of the package), but it takes more effort and time to break through in the newsworthy category.

Mare careful choices.

There are smart phone cameras and instant posting everywhere. The examples of careers coming down in flames are endless now, especially with the hypersensitivity that social media brings. One of the first side-effects of the scandal of the day is the loss of endorsements. Including some language about integrity and behavior in your contract can work wonders should you have to get out of the agreement.

Understand the financial implications that come along for the ride.

From the initial fee to the VIP treatment with first class airfare, hair and makeup, be sure your budget can accommodate the entire package.

Celebrities and athletes can work to humanize your product or service, and can bring a positive association. Before you take that step, understand the pros and cons of the relationship and prepare for contingencies when you can. Make the right choice, put a robust program and budget behind it, and make the most of the value of your celebrity.

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