Whether you’re the talent, the publicist, or the organizer, nobody likes to trip up on the red carpet.
While stepping onto that crimson walkway can be both hectic and high-energy, there are a few hard and fast rules that can make the experience easier and more enjoyable for all involved.
The goal is to leave a lasting positive impression, while using the opportunity to connect with other influencers, and develop meaningful relationships with the media.
Red carpets provide the opportunity to be seen amongst those who are also being seen.
As PR pros, it is our job to ensure our clients look and act their best on the red carpet.
Whether it’s a charity event or an awards ceremony, your client’s red carpet debut isn’t just about taking pictures, walking, and leaving.
It’s their opportunity to actually chat with journalists about their upcoming developments, get on their radar (if they weren’t before), and have fun things to share on social media that show them out and about in the ‘in’ crowd.
It’s perception, and perception is everything.
If you don’t view every red carpet as a chance to help your client accomplish all of those things, you are wasting their time.
By taking these few key steps, you’ll prime both yourself (and your client, if you are a publicist coaching them) to be both effective and engaging on a red carpet.
Red Carpet Rule #1: Do Your Homework Ahead of Time
As the publicist, first, you must seek out the right events for your client.
Find out what media will be attending and who else is being invited.
This allows you to know ahead of time how to prep your client to give the media what they want, if and when they ask for it.
Remind your client that, as their career is still growing, not all members of the media are immediately going to want to talk to them.
Many may not even know who they are yet.
Help your client build buzz by attending smaller events around town to grow their credibility and their following.
Do your homework on any and all events your client attends.
Be a matchmaker for both the event and your client by locking them in for events that align with their interests and work.
Red Carpet Rule #2: Clarify the Goals
Does your client need to take specific pictures with other influencers who are also attending the event?
Do they need to talk to a specific member of the media?
If so, plan for that ahead of time.
Ask the PR people organizing the event who else is invited, who has RSVP’d, and what media are confirmed.
(Oftentimes, those organizers won’t offer you exact names, but they will tell you the outlets).
And, if you are the PR person who is planning the event, share that information.
I’ve met publicists who always fall back on, “That’s confidential.”
Don’t you want everyone to get the most out of this experience?
Share the information.
We’re not asking for their social security and phone numbers.
We’re just trying to be informed so that everyone wins the day-of.
Red Carpet Rule #3: Choose Talking Points
If you are representing someone who is in the music industry, you’ll want them to hint at when they’re dropping their new album or releasing new songs.
If you are representing an entertainment industry influencer, you’ll want them to mention a subtle tie-in to their most recent project.
Come up with answers for why the event is relevant to your client.
The media want to know about the here, now and close future.
Don’t let your client show up unprepared to charmingly address those questions and/or start a relevant conversation.
Red Carpet Rule #4: Brief Your Client on the Event
Make sure your client understands the purpose of the event.
I once saw a reporter ask, “Why are you here for this charity event?”
To which an attendee actually responded, “I don’t know, I love the children.”
The event wasn’t even a children’s benefit.
Don’t let this happen to your client.
They will end up looking silly and self-serving.
If you brief your client on the most important facts and context for the event ahead of time, they will give strong, relevant interviews.
Red Carpet Rule #5: Be Nice and Personable
If you are representing a high-profile person who won’t have time to talk to every member of the media on the carpet, that’s understandable.
But be nice about it.
Offer the remaining media your business card and suggest a follow-up with your client sometime after the event.
I once saw a celebrity’s publicist respond so rudely to a well-intentioned reporter on the red carpet, without knowing the cameraman was already rolling.
Her nasty reaction went viral.
It pays to be nice.
If your client cannot talk to them, be apologetic.
Figure out a way to work together.
Be graceful and gracious about it.
Imagine a camera is rolling and your behavior is being recorded at all times.
With careful preparation (and a bit of luck) your client will make a positive, lasting impression on their fans, their colleagues, and the media, all while being careful not to trip on that red carpet.
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