These tips will help you contact and communicate effectively with hard-to-reach celebrities

So, you want to help your organization reach a wider audience of potential donors, or boost the funding of your worthy projects? Reaching out to celebrities can be one way to do this. We’ve compiled information here that can help you get started.

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Why listen to us?

At Look to the Stars, we receive thousands of emails from people who work with non-profits, are looking for support for a charity auction or event, or are putting together philanthropic TV shows, radio programs, books or news stories.

Throughout our years as the leader in the celebrity charity information field, we have picked up a few tips that can help get your message through to celebrities.

We aren't affiliated with the celebrities we feature, so we can't pass on your correspondence to them.

Choosing Celebrities to Contact

The importance of preparation

Contacting celebrities can be time-consuming and expensive if you do it wrong, so it makes sense to have a solid plan before you start reaching out to people.

Prepare your campaign materials thoroughly before you even consider which celebrities you want to get on board. The people you reach out to will not be able to see your vision unless you have mapped it all out well in advance, and they will be counting on your strength and clarity to energize and motivate them.

Forming your plan

  • What kind of campaign are you running? (Gala event, auction, online awareness?)
  • What age group do you want to reach?
  • How do you want to use your celebrity supporters? (Event attendance, video, radio, social media, meet-and-greet?)
  • Who influences your supporters? (Musicians, scientists, business people?)

All of this will affect which celebrity you want to work with. Creating a clear vision will help you progress more smoothly.

Once you know what you want to accomplish - and how you plan to accomplish it - take time to consider who will most effectively reach and influence your audience.

Don’t just contact a celebrity because you like his TV show. What appeals to you personally should play very little part in your decision making.

If you are looking to engage a young, tech-savvy crowd, make sure you reach out to celebrities with a good online presence. However, if you are looking to reach a more mature and affluent market, you should choose to contact celebrities who have influence in this area.

Also important is that the celebrity has shown an interest in your field. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Does she have a personal connection to your cause? That will help to keep her support for you constant, and also lends credibility to her charitable actions. Many people are skeptical about celebrities’ reasons for getting involved, so it helps to show that she is truly connected to your cause.
  • Is he already overstretched? If his time is already fully absorbed by his own projects, he might not have the time or energy to dedicate to your organization.
  • Does she avoid the media spotlight? If she tries to keep to herself and doesn’t want cameras following her around, she probably won’t work to get you the attention you are after.
  • Are his fans the right type of people to support your cause?
  • Are fans likely to get involved at all based on her type of participation and how you are using her support? If she prefers to make anonymous donations, that is great, but it won’t bring her fans to your website or events.
  • Will his involvement affect how your current supporters feel about you in a positive way? If your current supporters are mostly older, bringing a young celebrity on board isn’t likely to excite them, and vice versa.
  • If you go with a celebrity who provokes controversy, will the publicity you receive be the sort of publicity you want? Some celebrities have unique methods of keeping their names in the news. This might be okay for some organizations; make sure it is right for yours if you choose to work with them.

Once you choose your celebrities, do even more research. What other organizations have they supported?* What have they done to show their support? How has that turned out for the group?

* If you are representing a large non-profit with offices in several locations, check with the other offices to see if they have had any celebrity involvement. Know who has supported your charity previously, even if you haven’t worked with them in your branch. You would be surprised how often non-profits get in touch asking us to add them to our site when they are already listed, and are then surprised to learn about the celebrities who have supported them in the past!

Need help figuring out who to contact?

Our Insider Access subscriptions help you explore and narrow down thousands of celebrities already involved with charitable causes:

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Communicating your message

You are most likely going to have to go through “gatekeepers” such as an agent or manager to get to the celebrity, and they are paid to protect their clients’ time and images. Sadly, they don’t always have the time for niceties, so keep that in mind if you get what appears to be a rude response, or no response at all.

Get to the point

When you are writing your letter of introduction, remember these are very busy people who are approached constantly. Try to grab their attention right away - if you have something exciting to share or heavy hitters supporting you, say it early. Nothing turns a busy person off more than having to dredge through a long email or letter, trying to figure out what it is the writer is after. We can attest to that - if the email is too long or is unclear, we quickly lose interest.

We cannot stress enough how extremely important it is to be clear about what you want. Don’t leave the reader wondering what it is you expect them to be able to do for you. You can explain what you are doing perfectly, but if you don’t say how you think the reader can help, they won’t be able to imagine themselves helping you. Busy people won’t take time to decipher your message and figure out for themselves what you are asking them to do.

Start with a quick summary:

  • What is your project? Try to sum it up in one or two catchy sentences. Don’t get too caught up on the details.
  • What are your assets? Describe existing funding, plans already in motion, major supporters, past experience etc.
  • How do you want the person to help? e.g. appearing at an event, signing a photo, etc.
  • Why they are a good candidate to get involved. Make sure you get this one right, as it shows your understanding of your situation and theirs. We receive lots of letters asking us for help with things completely out of our field of expertise, and it makes us wonder if the people writing us truly understand what it is that they are doing.
  • What will the celebrity get out of it? Money, travel expenses, name on the program, seeing the faces of people they have helped, etc.
  • Make it personal. Don’t send out 50 letters clad in bright red envelopes to one agency all in one day - that screams “spam” and robs your letter of its strength. If the agency feels like you are trolling with a bulk letter, they will not give your cause the attention it deserves.
  • Proof read your letters, and have others look them over, too. Make sure names are spelled correctly, and that they are the right names. We sometimes get emails and letters which are obviously sent to many people, but with the name of the recipient changed. If you must do this, be very sure all of your proper names and pronouns are correct. Don’t tell a star named John that you hope she can find it in her heart to support you.
  • If you would like a response, be sure to include response cards and/or a return envelope.
  • Include links to any relevant websites, so they can do further research on their own if they choose to. Good websites to reference might include Guidestar.org or CharityNavigator.org if your organisation is listed there.

Some ways to grab attention include mentioning:

  • Compelling publicity opportunities, i.e., thousands of people will be watching your show on television, or a large media outlet is one of your sponsors
  • Names (for example, if one of your key advisors is CEO of a major corporation, mention that you have that support.)
  • Money. Even if you aren’t promising to pay the supporter, just seeing $$ can boost a person’s interest in the event/project, so if you are working on a $million project, mention it.
  • Potential for social good. If you’re trying to engage someone for charitable purposes, it helps if it is clear their involvement will make a tangible difference.

Be honest, and don’t oversell your position. Don’t say that you and your partner websites receive 1/2 million hits if you don’t even have your website up and running yet. Don’t say that you are working with the UN if no UN employees can back you up on it. Also, don’t claim you cover a topic on your website if all you have is a couple of out-dated links to news stories on other sites. No one wants to be misled, and you will quickly be written off if you are too unrealistic about your claims.

Hope sells. Show your positive side, state how your group is helping your cause, and explain how the celebrity personally can make a difference. But don’t put on too much pressure or you are likely to scare them away. No one wants to have the weight of an entire cause resting on their actions.

Desperation does not work! Nothing turns a recipient off more than a message like, "I am suffering from [insert latin name of rare plant here], and need someone to buy me a new house and two red cars or my children will move in with my neighbors." (We really have received messages like this!) Show that you are already taking steps to help yourself, albeit perhaps not as quickly or grandly as you could with their support, and have reasonable expectations for what they can do to help.

As mentioned above, have a specific plan. Many representatives absolutely will not approach their clients about a project unless it is definite, with solid dates and times. We have seen this happen even in the case of big name celebrities who are organizing events and looking to get other A-listers involved - without a solid plan, even they can struggle to get through.

What do you do once you’ve got celebrity supporters? We can offer online news coverage, and also help arrange online fundraisers and TV promotional spots, among other options. Get in touch to find out!

Finding contact information for celebrities

Search the Web, but be wary

In our experience, it is often quite easy to use Google to find the addresses of the agency that represents a celebrity.

However, response rates are usually low; the celebrity's representation may have changed, or the correspondence may simply be classified as fan mail, and not given proper consideration.

Or just buy reliable contact information

Some services exist that provide reliable and up-to-date contact details for celebrities, usually for a low price. We get much better results now we use such a service: Celebrity contact service →.

We get a high response rate, and no mail has been returned to us undelivered. The service has addresses for over 30,000 celebrities, its owner is very helpful, and we feel we can recommend it:

Celebrity contact service →