THE BUSI­NESS OF CELEBRITY Earn big bucks as an A-list in­sider? We’re in

Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Contents -

Once upon a time, in an era known as Pre So­cial Me­dia, a celebrity’s en­tourage con­sisted of a hair stylist, bouncer and one very har­ried PA. But nowa­days a whole new em­ployee set has been added to Hol­ly­wood’s pay­roll. They are the dig­i­tal whis­per­ers, a highly covert, highly re­mu­ner­ated group of in­di­vid­u­als whose job it is to en­sure their celebrity client’s dig­i­tal im­age re­mains spot­less at all times. This is not a job you’ll find on Ca­, nor is it one a de­gree in com­puter sciences is go­ing to land you. In­stead, read on to find out how you can in­fil­trate and in­flu­ence the A-list, while get­ting paid hand­somely to do it.


Re­mem­ber when Char­lie Sheen ac­ci­den­tally tweeted his own phone num­ber? Or that time Mary J Blige asked that peo­ple not in­sult her ‘in­tel­li­gents’? Celebrity so­cial me­dia er­rors can kill a ca­reer in less than 140 char­ac­ters. Ouch! Which is where a silver-fin­gered ‘ghost tweeter’ comes in. They han­dle some, if not all, of a celebrity’s ac­counts: Brit­ney Spears, Hugh Jack­man and Usher have all been known to use them, and salaries for the high­est-paid po­si­tions can head into six fig­ures.

“The process that goes into one wor­thy im­age, or cu­rat­ing an en­tire month of posts, re­quires hours of

plan­ning and strat­egy,” says Ni­cole Lo­gan, brand di­rec­tor at the LA-based So­cial In­tel­li­gence Agency.

“And con­sis­tency is key,” says Al­li­son Peters, so­cial me­dia man­ager for Kerry Wash­ing­ton. “When we post the same type of con­tent on the same day each week, the fans look for­ward to it.”


You’ll need a strong grasp of analysing so­cial me­dia data.“We start with a deep dive into so­cial an­a­lyt­ics and mea­sure progress with the data we col­lect,” says Lo­gan. Get to grips with tools like Buffer, Hoot­suite and Key­hole.

You’ll also need im­pec­ca­ble gram­mar and an eye for de­tail (who can for­get Su­san Boyle’s eye-wa­ter­ing hash­tag #su­sanal­bumparty?). “I al­ways check to see what is trend­ing be­fore post­ing,” adds Lo­gan. “I’d hate to post some­thing friv­o­lous when a ma­jor world event is hap­pen­ing.” Like we said, an IN­CRED­I­BLE eye for de­tail.


We can now watch the red car­pet from the com­fort of our sofa and, thanks to hordes of re­porters and fans clutch­ing their phones, celebri­ties now lit­er­ally need eyes in the back of their head. “I get paid to show celebri­ties how to walk onto the red car­pet like they own the place; we prac­tise ev­ery­thing from their stride, to how to stand and pose in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions for the cam­eras more nat­u­rally,” says Ruth Sherman, a US-based me­dia trainer, who is ap­proached by film stu­dios in the run-up to a celebrity’s pro­mo­tional tour. What’s more, it’s ru­moured that peo­ple like Sherman are even hired to teach celebrity cou­ples on the verge of a split how to en­sure that their body lan­guage doesn’t give any­thing away.


Get the right ex­pe­ri­ence on your CV.“I have a back­ground in per­form­ing arts, and a mas­ter’s de­gree in speech and in­ter­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” says Sherman. But don’t just look to the big stars. “My job is fairly niche, and there are only a hand­ful of us who work with A-lis­ters,” adds Sherman. “I also of­fer me­dia train­ing for di­rec­tors and film ex­ec­u­tives.” Start with cor­po­rate work – some­thing like me­dia train­ing busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives. Go to pub­lic talks and hus­tle the speak­ers af­ter­wards, tak­ing care to stress how good they were, but then of­fer ways in which you think you could help them im­prove. Shame­less, but ef­fec­tive.


When Louise Thomp­son’s brother In­sta­grammed a pic­ture of the Made In

Chelsea star sur­rounded by two pho­tog­ra­phers and a light­ing rig, he ex­posed one of so­cial me­dia’s worst-kept se­crets: most of the snaps you scroll past are taken by a pro­fes­sional. Oh, and they’re us­ing a cam­era that’s a tad more tech­ni­cal than your iPhone 7 and a Va­len­cia fil­ter.

“Us­ing a pro­fes­sional to shoot a lot of their con­tent can en­hance their ac­count,” says Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher Conor McDon­nell, who shot Kim and Kanye’s wed­ding, and who also works with Calvin Har­ris, Niall Ho­ran and El­lie Gould­ing. And while McDon­nell’s images are cred­ited on In­sta­gram, other in­flu­encers are known for pass­ing off a pro­fes­sional’s work as their own – in­clud­ing life­style shots of cof­fee and brunch, which can be bought in bulk from spe­cial­ist pho­tog­ra­phers.“I’m not sure peo­ple re­alise the ex­tent [to which] pro-pho­tog­ra­phers are used for In­sta­gram,” says McDon­nell.


Ad­ver­tise your skills on In­sta­gram. McDon­nell got the call about Kim

and Kanye’s wed­ding af­ter his work was spot­ted on the app. Use hash­tags re­lat­ing to the type of shots you take, and the cam­era you use, eg #canon500 and #stree­tart #wed­ding­pho­tog­ra­pher #celebri­ty­pho­tog­ra­pher. Start small – try of­fer­ing your ser­vices to as­pir­ing ac­tors, or small bands (McDon­nell got his first job email­ing in­die band The Sub­ways be­fore a gig) as a way to build your celebrity port­fo­lio.


Ever since Gwyneth took charge of her ‘con­scious un­cou­pling,’ celebri­ties have been ditch­ing the old model (agree on a state­ment, then send it out to a weekly gos­sip mag­a­zine), and an­nounc­ing their splits via their own chan­nels. Demi Lo­vato and Kylie Minogue have done like­wise.“There are lots of agen­cies spe­cial­is­ing in this kind of cri­sis man­age­ment,” says Rob Shuter, a for­mer pub­li­cist who worked with Jennifer Lopez dur­ing her split from Ben Af­fleck.“And they are paid thou­sands to han­dle a di­vorce or break-up.” They plan ev­ery­thing: draft­ing those heart­felt so­cial posts, stag­ing images that make their client look happy or sad, role-play­ing in­ter­views and teach­ing them the per­fect im­age-sav­ing an­swer when grilled about their split.“You even prac­tise with your client what to do if they run into their ex in pub­lic,” Shuter adds. Er… where were you when we bumped into our ex in a pair of stained trackie bot­toms in Tesco, Rob?


Get a foot in the per­sonal pub­li­cist world. Sign up for the weekly PR job round-up with Gorkana, and book­mark Pr­ to find va­can­cies. Be pre­pared to in­tern at first, and learn ev­ery­thing about your niche. Fol­low #cri­sis­man­age­ment and #Cri­sisPR on Twit­ter to find ar­ti­cles and ex­perts in this spe­cial­ist field.


With around £100k up for grabs for one In­sta­gram post (the ru­moured cost to get your brand on a Kar­dashian’s grid), you’re go­ing to need help han­dling which com­pa­nies you should work with. Cue the dig­i­tal tal­ent man­ager – agen­cies have sprung up to help stars snag th­ese big-ticket cam­paigns, and Gleam Fu­tures, who work with YouTube power cou­ple Tanya Burr and Jim Chap­man, are one of the big­gest.

“Our role is to seek cred­i­ble, long-term brand part­ner­ships for our tal­ent,” says Gleam’s head of tal­ent, Lucy Len­drem. This means it can then take any­thing from 24 hours to six months from the ini­tial pro­posal to the fi­nal col­lab­o­ra­tion go­ing live, de­pend­ing on the size of the cam­paign. A big one can in­volve a month’s worth of planned posts with ne­go­ti­a­tions over con­tent as im­por­tant as the fee.


Re­search an agency’s clients.“None of my team have prior ex­pe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing or agent­ing – we’ve got peo­ple from ad­ver­tis­ing, ra­dio and TV,” says Len­drem. Be the full pack­age. When she’s hir­ing, Len­drem looks for “com­mer­cially-minded peo­plepeo­ple”. You’ll need to demon­strate shrewd busi­ness sense, and equally strong in­ter­per­sonal skills.






Ken­dall Jen­ner strut­ting her stuff @be­y­on­ceat Cannes Fes­ti­val

@ca­radelev­ingne @nickim­i­naj







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