The most sure-fire way to ensure celebrity attendance is quite simply, to pay them. And I do NOT mean in a Hong Kong/LA way where every celebrity is literally paid cash to turn up on the red carpet. Most then immediately leave without even entering the party...I just can't stand this kind of event as often depicted on The Spin Crowd. I understand the purpose of a red carpet set-up with a media wall (called a 'step & repeat' in the US!) but if they're not even bothering to go into the party what's the point? It's just become such a cash-riddled farce. Don't even get me started on the media event scene in Hong Kong - that's a whole blog unto itself, coming soon. I shudder when I imagine this scenario happening in Australia and all PRs should be immensely grateful this is not the norm here...yet.
So if budget allows, involve your celeb of choice in an official capacity at your event. This can be as MC, performer or official launch identity. The celebrity is paid for their role, but it's out in the open by way of being communicated on the invitation (You are cordially invited to xxx launch, MC insert celebrity here). This is the most sure-fire, transparent and easy way to get the face you want on your ruby rug.
What's better than one celeb? A bevy of them. Ambassadorships are hugely popular with Australian PRs, and this can be full blown paid ambassador roles, or simply product contra. When you have several of these relationships, whether formal or informal, you can guarantee a sprinkling of sparkle at your client's events over the course of the year. And rather than handing out product or clothing ad-hoc to whoever over the course of the year, it makes better business sense to strategically target celebrities who are a perfect fit for your client, and develop an ongoing relationship with them.
Easier still? If they're your friend! Once you've thrown events with celebrities involved as per above, you've probably become rather friendly with them. Then they start coming to lots of your different events, it's pretty simple.
Developing relationships with up-and-coming celebrities is important too. Remember the old adage of treat all people equally for you never know where they'll end up? Same applies here. When I was a wee PR sprogget I met and befriended lots of celebby types simply due to the events I was throwing and going to - and who, like me, were starting their career too and looking for a bone. I would invite these people along to my events, they were grateful for the publicity and I was grateful for a face for the snappers, and in time their stardom grew. It's a wonderfully symbiotic relationship - and they never stopped supporting my events even when their stardom eclipsed whatever launch party I was throwing. Help each other along the way!
Develop relationships with agents
Developing relationships with the gatekeepers is a clever strategy. They have the power to send a selection of their celebrities to your events, and you have the power to employ those celebrities at various functions. It works both ways. A mutual back scratching scenario if you will. It's cleverer and time-smart to nurture a handful of key relationships with agents and celebrities than to try and get anyone/everyone to your event. However the result can be that if you go to a particular PR agency's event you see the same batch of celeb faces every time, but who cares - there's only a small pool in our fair city to start with!
So this funnily enough was the advice I gave the girl last night! Only 1 week to go? No RSVPs from the invites already sent? My advice: be realistic, pick 3 of the nicest/most accessible celebrities, ideally ones you have some kind of contact with and relevance to - and ask really nicely. ie: BEG. Plead your case on behalf of your charity, saying simply - 'If you could just come by for an hour we will ply you with food & drink, it'll be easy, and your presence will help us raise the $50,000 we are aiming for! Pretty please?' They say ask and you shall receive, right? The support you can get if you are humble and ask nicely will surprise you - contrary to popular belief, most people in this industry are lovely. Never be too scared to ask.
And last but not least...Pot Luck
Do what most PR agencies do just in case - send a large batch of invites out to every celebrity who lives in your city and see if any of them come! Sometimes...they do. ;)