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celebrity gift suites

Fashion PR Guide to Celebrity Gifting Suites

Written by Janna Meyrowitz-Turner

If you're involved in PR or Marketing for a consumer or fashion brand, odds are you’ve received emails from companies hosting a gift lounge in honor of {fill in the blank event/award show} that promises to get your brand and/or product to the hottest celebrities. We all know the undeniable power of a celebrity to elevate brand awareness but are celebrity gifting suites worth the risk?

Considering the following before participation in a celebrity gift lounge. If you decide to take the plunge, take note of what to do to maximize the opportunity in today’s 24-hour-news-cycle-celebrity-obsessed-media-world.

First, choosing a lounge is two-fold. There’s the lounge and there’s the company that produces it.

Research events to find out which align with your brand. Different events target different demographics of celebrities (male, female, younger/up-and-coming, established/older) and different kinds of media outlets are interested in different demographics &  celebrities. For award shows especially, the majority of the talent that come through lounges are that year’s nominees and presenters. Look at who is nominated for the event you’re considering.

Lifestyle PR consultant Melissa Papa had a “not so great experience" with one particular company who didn’t deliver the celebrity attendance list they promised. As a result, "the event didn’t garner nearly the press that we’d been assured it would.  It was disappointing for my client, a small skin care company, who had spent thousands of dollars on the participation fee.”

While celebrity attendance is never guaranteed due to unforeseen circumstances, any veteran lounge production company can tell you who they have good relationships with and who usually comes through their lounges.

Be wary of anyone who makes outlandish promises and guarantees of multiple, specific A-listers.

Even agents, managers and publicists can’t 100% guarantee their clients will be there. This company might just be selling you on the event to fill a space and to help cover their event costs.

Identify a lounge production company that you can build a long term relationship with and who understands you and your brand.

Work with companies that can demonstrate creativity when it comes to introducing your brand to celebrities. Do they have original ideas of how your brand’s display should look? What do they suggest you gift to produce strong interactions and great photos?

Even if you’re a professional publicist, you want to work with a lounge production company that is PR savvy.

If an A-list celebrity says or does something silly with your product in the lounge and no media outlet hears about it, did it even happen? Any good lounge will have press floating around from top weeklies, blogs and entertainment news TV shows. It’s your job as brand representative to chat up the celebrities when they’re interacting with your product and to get them to do and say those silly things. But, a good lounge production company will also give you tips on how to do that if you’re a first timer, and will work on your behalf to get those items placed in the media through their own relationships.

If you are a seasoned pro and have your own relationships, pitch away right after the event, just make sure that the lounge production company doesn’t have any exclusives set up that you could potentially jeopardize.

Beauty publicist Felissa Benjamin found that "the press surrounding a lounge we did greatly increased people's knowledge of our prestige beauty client. We did a PRNewswire release, an e-blast alert and targeted pitching on our own. Sales and traffic increased on their website and we got some great new celebrity fans whose names we could use in the media.”

Last but definitely not least, work with a company that prides themselves on the classiness of their lounge and works overtime to make sure that both you and the celebrities that come through the lounge feel comfortable. Yes, there is an inherent awkwardness associated with giving and accepting free stuff! Work with lounge producers that make it clear who is supposed to be gifted and who is not.

You’re not expected to recognize every celebrity that comes through so it needs to be communicated to you, conspicuously, who they are.

Be wary of companies that have different “levels” of gifting for celebrities (i.e. A-list, B-list, C-list and so on).  Not only is that uncomfortable for celebrities no matter what list they are on, but for you too! What if someone that is on the C-list is the star of your favorite TV show and you want to give them your best gift? Uncomfortable.

Since I’m sure you’ll track me down to ask me, my personal favorite company to work with is On 3 Productions. The majority of their lounges are the official gift lounges at their respective events (i.e. if you do a Primetime Emmy Awards lounge you are under the stage in the Nokia Theater and an official part of the flow of the show). Co-founders Matthew Simon and Samantha Haft are creative, personable, and take a lot of pride in their work and it reflects in the results we’ve been able to garner for our clients. (Please note I am in no way employed or compensated by On 3 Productions).

In conclusion, do your research. Talk to your friends in the business that may have experience with gift lounges. Ask lounge representatives what makes them different from all the other lounges out there. And ask these detailed questions before you sign on the dotted line.

About Janna Meyrowitz-Turner

Janna is founder and president of Style House PR, and provides PR/marketing/branding and consulting services for clients in the fashion, beauty, retail and lifestyle industries.

www.stylehousepr.com
www.stylehousepr.tumblr.com
www.twitter.com/StyleHousePR

Image source: WireImage

About the author: prcouture


One Comment

  • Meredith Bond
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    This was a great article. Sheds some light on the world of gifting suites/lounges.
    I am looking to see if you can give some information about hosting a gifting suite. How do you begin to host one for a celebrity event or award show? I own an event planning company and I am very curious about the ins and outs of hosting a suite. Where would I begin? Who do I need to partner up with?

    If its easier you can email me at meredith.bond@crave26events.com

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Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping rad companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me an electronic communiqué.