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How Organizations Can Best Leverage Celebrity Ambassadors

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Working with celebrities is a go-to marketing solution for many brands and nonprofits looking to boost awareness, but how do we ensure these partnerships move the needle on our business goals? Managing high-profile relationships effectively takes planning and a thoughtful approach.

At Good Sports, we are lucky to work with several athlete ambassadors across a variety of sports and just recently negotiated our partnership with ESPN analyst and TV personality Jesse Palmer to a long-term renewal. The key to our mutually beneficial partnerships is based on a shared vision of giving more kids the opportunity to play youth sports, the cornerstone of Good Sports’s mission.

Before we made the initial deal with Jesse, we knew youth sports were important to him and that he was genuinely interested in our mission. The relationship was organic and not forced. After one year of working together, he has proved to be a great fit for our organization and he believes in what we’re doing so much that he’s signed on to work with us for another three years.

Once you establish a shared vision, there are a few more key strategies that can help maximize your celebrity ambassadors:

Get their hands dirty . In order for anyone to sell your story in a meaningful way, they need to understand what you do, why you do it and why it is important. There is no better way to provide this information than offering opportunities to get involved at the grassroots, hands-on level. Depending on the goals of the organization, this can mean a lot of things. For Good Sports, it has meant traveling to the neighborhoods we serve, handing out equipment, packing up boxes and interacting with the coaches and kids that are critical to our work. This experience does what a brochure or PowerPoint simply cannot do.

Share the spotlight . While the goal of these partnerships is to shine a light on the organization with a larger audience than you would have without them, it doesn’t hurt to make your ambassadors look good, too. Identifying ways to capture and share content about the partnership can go a long way in expanding the opportunities to work together. Influencers are concerned with their brands as well, and if a partnership can be executed to become mutually beneficial then you can likely expect it to be long-term as well.

Tell them what you did . At Good Sports, we are big believers in reporting, and our ambassadors are no exception. Just as we plan out the relationship goals, we also compile data along the way and provide detailed reports on each campaign, outlining what we did together and what we achieved. We also share ownership of the results, ensuring we maximized each opportunity and evaluating strategies to improve for subsequent campaigns. There is something about seeing those results in one place that makes everyone feel proud and excited about the accomplishments. This is also a great opportunity for them to weigh in on what they liked and didn’t like along the way, so new ideas can be implemented in the future.

With long-term relationships like the one Good Sports has with Jesse, we can align our goals and try to make a bigger impact. For us, that means working to double the number of kids we impact each year from one million per year to two million per year, while increasing our all-time total equipment donations from $20 million to $50 million. While Good Sports will continue to serve kids nationally, we also plan to invest major resources in key markets including Boston, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and Atlanta. In addition, we plan to dedicate resources to cities facing significant challenges such as Houston and Detroit.