Just Say No

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On the back of MiC’s Binky Felstead being paid to support Barnardo’s, we had a little debate. Is it ever OK for charities to pay celebrities?

Err NO. Our Head of Talent Susie Richardson (ex Head of PR at Macmillan Cancer Support) is pretty adamant – charities paying celebs to support them is wrong.

Not least because of the ‘misuse of funds’ debate, which risks damaging the charity’s reputation, but mostly because quite simply the most successful celebrity campaigns, either for a brand or a charity, require authenticity.

Binky didn’t actually follow @BarnardosRetail herself. FFS.

Binky didn’t actually follow @BarnardosRetail herself. FFS.

Sounds obvious? We work with talent on a daily basis, and know that the right celeb will have fun (always helps a campaign fly), add masses of value to both brand & charity campaigns & of course will drive loads of awareness via compelling coverage – but only if they are a genuinely great fit.

Where charities are concerned, securing celebrity support for free is increasingly competitive & tough. However, as Susie found out back at Macmillan (who never pay celebrities) when celebrity supporters were involved with a PR campaign, it was always for the right reasons. They were giving their expertise, time, and reputation to support a cause that they were 100% committed to, so they were always informed, empathetic, passionate & occasionally emotional. Of course, this authenticity created honest, compelling & impactful coverage, which was invaluable to Macmillan – paying a celebrity to try and tell the same tale would be futile.

AbFab Joanna Lumley & The Gurkhas.   Slightly more impactful than Binky.

AbFab Joanna Lumley & The Gurkhas. Slightly more impactful than Binky.

In a nutshell, whether you’re a brand or a charity, the golden rules of celebrity engagement remain the same… passion, authenticity & trust are key to successful campaigns:

1. Celebrities should be choosy: carefully select which charities and brands to work with. Quality not quantity – journalists, followers, fans & consumers are not daft

2. Build long-term relationships with talent – build trust, opens doors to hidden talents, passions and creativity…drives more interesting & compelling campaigns, benefitting all parties

3. Please remember your manners – of course! Whether personally or privately, thanking a celebrity & letting them know the impact they have had, goes a long way to keeping them engaged & loyal to your charity/brand.

So what now for Barnardo’s?

It may be a bit late, but our recommendation is that whilst the spotlight is on them, Barnardo’s should use Binky-gate as a very public call to arms plea for new celebrity supporters to support this wonderful charity. It’s such a great opportunity for both Barnardo’s and celebrities to have a huge impact on an important charity, surely there’s still time? Do it. http://www.barnardos.org.uk