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Should brands use and work with reality TV stars aka ‘celebrities’?

Updated: Nov 20, 2017

Here are Rochelle White PR (aka RWPR) we work with various clients who all have different needs, wants and goals. Now, this is going to be a little bit of a controversial blog, but we’re going to say and write it anyway…. (being the #PRRebels that we are).

If you know Rochelle, you will know her thoughts on ‘reality TV stars’, certain ‘Celebs’ and every other B, C and Z-lister out there. Now, this isn’t a bad thing or bad thoughts - each to their own we say. However, she has mixed feelings due to their attitudes of entitlement to FREE products from brands (no matter the size of the business) and some of the fees that they charge.

Just because they have been on TV and (usually have) a big social media following doesn’t mean they’re entitled to anything from anyone – can you see where we might be going with this…

Picture: Pinterest

The reason we’re putting this question out there, is because we’ve heard so many horror stories and seen some RIDICULOUS fees for a Instagram posts

**cough cough did someone say £10,000 for ONE Instagram post**

lots more £££ for cross promotion across social media channels plus blog content. It is shocking!

The worst thing is we’ve even had, but not many, are rude emails from management agencies as well as celebs themselves saying and we quote…

“I don’t know what your issue is! Other brands will just pay me and send me what I ask for. I understand your client can’t send it all, but I just want ******** and ********. I will put it on Instastory as I am not being paid! If you just gift me, I don’t know if it will be shared at all. Can you not just send me what I want; I really don’t know what the issue is to be honest with you….”

**yes this is a real response from someone who was/ is on a reality TV show

Now, we fully understand that YES, this is their “job” (yep we’re saying this in inverted commons) and part of their income. Yes, they have fees and yes various brands do pay. However, if the businesses they want to work with are start-ups or small and don’t have the budget is it right for celebs to demand massive fees and ample free stuff in exchange for some (and sometimes) shitty post or mention? Now, this could sound harsh but, this is true to a certain extent. We know, because we have seen it and experienced it.

Sometimes, even when a brand will want to gift or send something to a celeb, we do think it’s cheeky when they turn round and ask for one of everything a brand has. Or they won’t post/share it because no payment is attached (clearly, the days of being grateful that a brand wanted to gift you are gone). Plus, sometimes they may not even want a social media share, post or content, just a simple ‘THANK YOU’ and some FEEDBACK.

If a brand has gifted them and have asked if they received the item/items or even a follow up to see when they will share it, they send rude responses or they just disappear.

Are celebrities worth the investment and do they hold the power?

In this ever-changing environment where agencies and brands have to move and adapt in the changing landscape that is PR, we get asked lots of questions about collaborations, gifting and product placements with celebrities. We’re not a celebrity PR agency, but have worked with many on various projects, collaborations and launches which we have loved. We have had various successes, results and feedback across the board from all involved, however with all that in mind, we’re asking the question:

‘Should brands use, invest and work with reality TV celebrities’?

Now, you might be thinking ‘why are you asking this question when you have stated the above’? Because, we’re in two frames of mind with it ourselves. We have mixed feelings about the whole thing. From great success to horror stories, we feel for all the poor brands that have been burned badly and lost out on money and stock with the celebrity not giving a second thought.

Picture: Pinterest

Now, let us break this shit down for you in true RWPR style:

Should we as a PR agency even be asking this question?

We have to say ONE HUNDO PERCENT we do. The reason being, does a celebrity endorsement, collaboration or gifting really help drive a brand forward? Well, yes and no, depending on what you have planned, what you want to do with the celebrity and what sort of results you’re looking. Sometimes, a single ‘Instagram/ Instastory’ or ‘Snapchat’ mention is hardly going to give you an influx of sales (a short, quick hit of followers maybe).But, are you going to get the cost of their fee back and product sales from that?

When we work with clients there are set of questions we ask, to really test our clients on their overall vision or goal. What tends to happen is that they can’t always answer the questions properly or end up just saying things like:

‘oh blah blah said we should’ or ‘that brand similar to us is doing it’ the best one ‘I don’t actually know really, I think it will be cool to be see them wearing or using my products and get sales’ – great right.

One thing we would strongly advise to any brand wanting to work with a reality celeb, is make sure that the celebrity is a good fit for your brand, imagine and over vision. That there is a purpose/ reason for you to work or collaborating with them.

There is nothing worse than paying for a ‘paid promotional post’ for something that is going to get lost in their feed due to other paid promotions and regular updating. If they have a fee, understand what you will be getting for that payment and if there is going to be some sort of ROI in whatever shape or form that might be. There is no point in paying someone say £500 or more for a shitty post, not having a clear understanding of a purpose and then getting nothing in return. Yes, we’re being frank about this.

If you’re a startup, small or even a medium sized business, do you have money and stock to throw away? Nah, we’re sure you don’t. We would say, be mindful, understand why you want to work with them, research and mostly importantly don’t be afraid to ask questions. The worst that can happen is that they say no or don’t reply.

Yes we’ve had great success, but that has come down to knowing a few peeps/ managers, building relationships, being open, honest and generally understanding the person we’re reaching out too.

If a client specifies a particular person they want to work with, we research and understand if they are a good fit for the brand. If clients have done that work already even better.

*How we reach out to certain people is very bespoke and not always the norm** little odd balls us.

Partnerships or even collaborations that we have worked on and created has come down to planning, creative thinking and the fact that Rochelle, is externally talkative, fun, a little crazy and full of ideas.

Just ask our clients!

Reality TV celebs will all have their 5 minutes of fame and currently have a key place in social media marketing, PR and advertising. Even things like attending, headlining, speaking or even linking them to an event is a very easy way to get quick press coverage or ride of the back of coverage they receive themselves or their management companies.

This isn’t a bad thing, but for us this isn’t something we would do. Yes, working and collaborating with the celebrities can help a brand but, honestly just paying for a mention on Instagram is not always enough.

Plus contrary to what others might say, it also doesn’t mean that as a brand/ business you have to engage and get involved in it (although some might beg to differ). The key to working with them is making sure that they are part of a bigger plan and strategy. If it is something that you want to invest in, build it into your budget and create tangible goals that you can manage and track success. Be open and honest to why you want to work with them and build a good relationship.

What we want you to take away from this, is not the fact we don’t share the reality TV love, but as a brand/ business don’t get easily drawn into the ‘reality TV/celeb, influencer’ hype! Yes, they are great for a quick hit of PR coverage in probably some weeklies and online, yes it will be great for them to be associated with your brand (crisis management on standby depending on their behavior and brand association if bad press comes out), but always think bigger, wider and long term picture.

Most of these TV personas are there for 5 minutes of fame and then it is someone else who is hotter, more famous, with more followers. The scary thing is, everyone and we mean everyone can build an audience, following and engagement (yes this means paying for likes, comments and overall engagement).

Just because someone is on TV doesn’t mean all his or her followers and engagement are real. Some management companies/ agencies do FAKE SHIT (shock horror we said it and yes it is true), because more followers equals more money!

Collaborating or working with any celebrity can work well for brands.

Remember there are much more influential people out there apart from the young, trendy celebs you see on reality TV. Think long and hard about your brand, target audience, ethos and long term goals. Sometimes, things like this are all part of a 360 strategies that a brand is working towards.

With all this said we still work and collaborate with celebrities and their managements. We’re clear with what we will and won’t do, plus we have a unique approach.

We keep shit real and will be upfront on the best approach to gain a better return of investment.

If you would like to speak to us about our 360 approach drop us an email on: or you can even book a bespoke workshop or 1 2 1 session by clicking here.