Simon Addy, owner and director of talent booking agency RunRagged, reveals how PRs should go about working with influencers and which celebrities he’d love to work with.
Can you give a brief outline on what RunRagged does?
For over 20 years, RunRagged has been helping PRs and brands connect with influencers and A-list talent for PR campaigns, endorsements and events, ranging from Kate Moss, Stormzy and Benedict Cumberbatch through to the Virgin Group, Samsung and Champneys Spas.
We could be in our office one day and be at an event the next. No day is the same for us!
How do you like to work with PRs?
Right from the beginning. We’re able to profile the right celebrities for the brief at the right price, utilising our expert knowledge and buying power to achieve the best results.
We often get pulled onto booking projects last minute after PR agencies have struggled to do it themselves. Long term this ends up costing them and the client more when they have to get an expert on board last minute; talent agents can sense desperation when it’s close to the wire so fees go up, also team resource has been wasted.
Are there any common mistakes PRs make when booking or negotiating with celebrities? How can these be avoided?
A celebrity can have four or five people looking after them and the right contact will differ for each celebrity depending on the project. Going to the wrong person, having the wrong pitch and not knowing what a talent will or won’t do wastes valuable time and often results in overpaying.
If you can’t negotiate within your price bracket, move on. Throwing cash at the problem will only set a precedent and inflate the market for everyone else. At the end of the day, it’s all about value – if the celebrity believes in the cause, they’re far more valuable and authentic than someone just there for pay.
Having a long-term strategy for celebrity marketing is key to uncovering genuine advocates of the brand, who will deliver better authenticity and value to a campaign later on.
What’s the benefit of working with a talent booking agency versus doing it in-house?
Talent booking agencies like ours have contacts and relationships with agents and celebrities directly, meaning we’ve built up trust and understanding over many years along with personal knowledge about celebrities – their likes, dislikes, which jobs will appeal, which won’t and their market value.
We profile the right talent for the activity and the budget. This saves PRs time, stress and money in the long run and manages expectations from the off, helping them avoid any pitfalls to guarantee a successful campaign.
Using a good booking agency is exactly the same as using a good PR agency. It’s down to contacts, the strength of those relationships and an in-depth understanding of the industry.
How does the evolution of influencers affect what you do?
There’s three categories of “influencers”: talent (sport, actors, musicians, comedians), celebrity (reality stars and similar) and the social media influencer (those born of fame from Instagram etc). Brands increasingly want to engage with social media influencer, meaning paid-for activity on social media has become an integral part of most brands’ PR and marketing strategies.
Our work now includes this activity on a daily basis, from seeding product to talent for organic exposure through our unique online gifting portal The VIP Suite to content creation. We tend to work now with ‘earned’ influence and natural organic relationships that have the most impact for brands.
How do you see the sector evolving over the next five years? How should PRs stay ahead of the game?
Endorsements are becoming more organic and meaningful, so it’s important for PRs to create long-term relationships with celebrities and influencers. We developed The VIP Suite gifting platform to help brands and agencies find genuine fans among celebrities.
Collaborating with these is more likely to deliver value for the brand as they are passionate, rather than doing it just for the money. Finding these real fans early on ensures better value for campaigns later.
Finally, who’s the celebrity you would most like to represent?
We actually don’t represent any celebrities, which makes us unique as we’re completely impartial meaning we can put the brand first. But if we did, we’d love to represent the power house that are Beyonce and Jay Z!