The Do’s & Don’ts of Campaigning to Get Your Celeb on DWTS

Almost overnight, there has been a sudden surge in net “campaigns” to get certain celebs cast on season 11 of DWTS.  Fans of everyone from Johnny Weir to Martha Byrne to Antonio Sabato Jr. have taken to Facebook, Twitter, and various message boards & fan sites (including this one) in hopes of gaining support for their cause and catching the eye of the DWTS casting directors. 

Now while I definitely admire the enthusiasm & determination of some of the individuals behind these campaigns, I have to admit – some of them aren’t necessarily going about it the right way.  Now while I don’t consider myself an expert by any means on how to get your favorite celeb cast on a reality show (DWTS or otherwise), I do think there’s a certain strategy to it…a strategy I will outline below, which I call “The Do’s & Don’ts of Campaigning for DWTS”.

 But first and foremost, I feel as though I must share this:

 I DON’T THINK CAMPAIGNING REALLY WORKS FOR DWTS.

 Why? One, it has yet to work thus far; two, with DWTS getting its highest ratings yet this past season, the casting directors can afford to be picky and choosy about who they invite to do the show…meaning that lesser-known celebs (who had a better chance of being on one of the earlier seasons – and are more likely to be the ones having to campaign to get on this season) are less likely to be on the producers’ radar as part of a casting “wish list”.  Why would the “powers that be” go after little-known or washed-up actors, singers, athletes, and models when they can command big names like Donny Osmond, Susan Lucci, and Cloris Leachman? It’s also a matter of supply & demand: the less “available” a star appears to be due to a booming career, the more viewers will tune in to watch them, and the more “in demand” they will be.  In contrast, a star who hasn’t really done anything or seems to have been forgotten after years of inactivity will not pull as many viewers, and desperate campaigning will only reinforce their “availability”…making them less in demand.

That said, if I truly believed that campaigning worked for this show (and who knows, this season it actually might!), here’s some do’s and don’ts I would follow. 

 DO: Make sure your celeb actually wants to do the show.  Kind of a no-brainer – why toil away to try and get a celeb on the show, only to have them turn it down if they’re offered the chance? This is what unfortunately happened with the campaign to get Betty White on the show – a really strong, well-organized campaign was created, but it only lasted a few weeks before Betty publicly said that she wasn’t interested in doing the show.  This is one area where I give the folks campaigning for Johnny & Antonio props – those celebs are behind them 110%.

 DO: Do your homework about your celeb.  Find out everything you can about their career, personal life, hobbies, etc.  You never know what info could help you with your promotion of them.  You also want to know any of the less “savory” details of your celeb’s past (i.e. criminal records, known drug use, sex tapes – generally anything that would be considered “bad publicity”) so that you can come up with a strategy for downplaying them should these indiscretions be brought up as grounds for not having them on the show.

 DON’T: Get caught not knowing crucial details about your celeb. You need to be able to convince people that they’re worthy of being on the show.  If you can’t be bothered to actually care enough to know the details of their life & career, why should anyone else?

 DO: Come up with specific examples of why your celeb should be on the show.  What are they known for? Have they won any awards for it?  The latter is especially important – the show announces every celeb with a “tagline” (i.e. “Emmy award-winning soap actress Susan Lucci!” “Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek!” “Oscar winner Cloris Leachman!” “NFL Hall-of-Famer Michael Irvin!”), and the ones that make the biggest impression are the ones that have been recognized for their achievement in their particular area of expertise.  The producers LOVE a good, important-sounding tagline – it reinforces a particular celeb’s notability.  Not an award-winner? Mention anything notable they’ve been involved with.  Did they pose in Playboy? Are they a billionaire entrepreneur? Have they held some sort of prestigious public office? Mention that.  The producers of the show are concerned with ratings; you need to tell them how this particular celeb will bring in viewers – and awards and achievements are all concrete examples of this.

 DON’T: Be vague or weak in your arguments for why your celeb is notable. “So-and-so is a really good actor/singer/athlete/etc.” is wishy-washy and a matter of opinion.  So is “so-and-so is a really good person/has a great personality”.  Unless you can support any of these with awards won or evidence of charity work or cite specific examples of their “great personality” from interviews, none are valid arguments and are purely subjective. This is just like a high school research paper – you need to back up your statements with facts and examples, or else you really have no argument at all.   

 DO: Favorably mention previous celebs who have done the show that are similar to your celeb.  By comparing your celeb to one who has done the show in the past, you can demonstrate that there is a niche to be filled by your celeb on the show.  Are they a soap actor? Mention the popularity of contestants like Susan Lucci, Cameron Mathison, and Kelly Monaco.  Show people that your celeb would fit in on the show.

DON’T: Diss ANYONE involved with the show. It’s quite possibly the WORST thing you can do to garner support for your celeb. You’re sucking up to the producers – if you’re dissing any of the pros, hosts, judges, or previous contestants, it’s like telling them they’ve screwed up in creating the show…and now they’re ignoring whatever else you were going to say, even if it was insightful, because you’ve inadvertently insulted them.  Oh, and some of the viewers that may have otherwise joined your cause – they’re gone now too, because you have put down their favorite pro/judge/host/former contestant/etc.  And really, if your strongest arguments center around trash talking anyone from the show…then you really have no case to plead.  Focus on positively talking up your own celeb instead.

DO: Get creative.  Ok, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages are pretty much par for the course these days – but there are ways to set yourself apart from the masses of campaigners.  Make those pages really “pop” with good-quality videos & pix of your celeb, create some cute Twibbons or profile pix for supporters to use, or do a fun youtube video about your celeb, a la the Martha Byrne campaigners (really, the whole Martha Byrne campaign is to be lauded – IMO, they’re doing everything right).  Or, better yet, register your own domain name – get[your celeb here]ondwts.com.  This gives you a place where you have the undivided attention of those coming to the site – and odds are, they already might be interested in your cause, if they got to the site in the first place.  It’s a lot more effective than fighting with all of the other rival campaigners duking it out on general DWTS message boards, and you reap the benefits of your site popping up for everyone searching your celeb’s name on the search engines.

 DON’T: Start rattling off conspiracy theories about the show. Again, rather than focusing on the POSITIVE aspects of your own celeb, you’ve resorted to convoluted, rambling suspicions about how the show is biased against this, or plays favorites with that, or how the show is rigged, yadda yadda yadda…you get the idea.  Now everyone is looking at you like the proverbial crazy lady with the tinfoil hat who’s warning the neighbors about the upcoming alien invasion.  You just come across as crazy & irrational, and people don’t put stock in either of those qualities.  When in doubt, Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is usually the correct one – so complex conspiracy theories are rather pointless, anyway. Don’t get wrapped up in them ;-)

 DO: Proofread your work.  This may seem silly to some of you, but be honest: are you going pay more attention to a well-written, logical, coherent piece of campaign writing, or the one littered with grammar & spelling mistakes, obscenities, and punctuation overkill? The former makes you sound intelligent and considerate enough to make your work as easy as possible for viewers to read; the latter makes you sound immature and lazy, and will quickly make anyone attempting to read it lose interest in your message.  It’s a quick fix, mmmkay?

DON’T: Spam everyone involved with the show via Twitter, Facebook, fan sites, message boards, etc. This just serves to annoy them and will likely result in you getting blocked.  Johnny Weir fans, take heed: the pros, hosts, and judges have no input in what celebs get cast each season, so there’s really no point in relentlessly spamming Chelsie, Mark, Derek, Maks, Tony, Julianne, Tom, Carrie-Ann, Randall the costume designer, Joe Schmoe in craft services, Jimmy the cameraman, Kathy in ABC’s publicity department, etc. on Twitter, begging them to put Johnny on season 11.  If anything, this may actually deter the producers from casting a particular celeb due to a perceived unfair advantage.  And really, just don’t spam PERIOD – it annoys everyone.  A few well-worded tweets or wall posts are far more effective than a thousand repetitive ones. 

 DO: Work smarter, not harder. Now I really have to give Heidi credit for coming up with this one while she was proofreading this post for me (see kids? Even I proofread my work! :-D ).  Rather than the pointless & misguided spamming of everyone and their brother mentioned above, focus your efforts on those that actually share your interest to begin with – fans of that celeb.  See who’s mentioning [insert celeb here] in their tweets – follow them.  If they see you’re into [insert celeb here] as well, they will likely follow back…and then they’ll see all the stuff you’re tweeting about the campaign in their feed.  Better yet, see who’s following [insert celeb here], and follow them too – they’re going to be the ones who are most likely to help support the cause.  You can even set up your tweet deck (or whatever Twitter program you use) to search for any mention of that celeb’s name out in the Twitterverse, which can also lead you to potential supporters.  Really kids, it’s not all about quantity of tweets in this case…it’s about the quality.

So there you have it – the Courtney strategy for getting your celeb on DWTS.  Will it work? Probably not, but it may at least stop some of the campaigning madness that we’ve witnessed here ;-)