Don’t rush out statements if your celebrities court controversy, charities advised

Charity

Charities have been advised not to rush out statements in the face of controversy involving their celebrity ambassadors.

Speaking at the Third Sector Conference in central London, Rachel Walker, deputy head of celebrity and VIP at the end-of-life charity Marie Curie, discussed the potential risks that could arise for charities that work with celebrities. 

Walker said that while engaging famous names can be an excellent way for charities to bring attention to their work, she also examined how organisations should respond if an ambassador of theirs attracted negative publicity. 

“The very first thing you do is stay calm, maybe just wait and let it play out a little bit to see what happens,” she said.

“Don’t rush to put out a statement – you might not have to put one out at all, but do prepare robust lines for if you are approached by a news outlet with questions.

“Depending on the severity of the situation, you might contact the celebrity’s team and explain that the charity needs to step back from the relationship at present.

“If there was any media activity pending, you would cancel or postpone.”

Walker also talked about how the public perceived celebrities being paid for their work with charities. 

She said a Channel 4 Dispatches survey in 2020 found seven in 10 adults in the UK would be put off from donating to a charity if it paid a celebrity to back it.

“You have probably seen media stories calling out celebrities taking payment from charities,” Walker said.

“The public feel celebrities should be giving their support for free but also you want that support to look authentic.”

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