By Susan O'Neill Posted April 21, 2010, 10:00 AM EDT
Donna Iacobazzi Pecci has had a longtime, self-professed obsession with Hollywood news and gossip. Since launching full-service entertainment and event consulting company Leverage 8 with husband Scott Pecci in January 2009, she’s been using that knowledge in her day job. “I found a way to turn it into a business,” says Iacobazzi Pecci, who booked celebrities including Sheryl Crow and Tony Bennett during her five years as the director of talent buying and entertainment management for XA, the Experiential Agency, before branching out on her own.
“If I sit down with a brand and they want a celebrity to walk the red carpet, then I use my knowledge [of the entertainment industry in Hollywood],” she says. “The most important thing I do is create realistic expectations for my clients. Is this person relevant to your brand? Does their fan base match your target audience? Does the press already love them? The brand message will dictate whether you want Taylor Swift or Snooki from Jersey Shore.”
Iacobazzi Pecci works with corporate clients, PR firms, and marketing agencies to secure entertainers such as bands, DJs, and celebrities for a broad range of events. “We handle all of the contract negotiations, everything up to managing the talent on site. I take that off of somebody else’s plate, whether it’s a producer or a corporate event planner,” she says.
Booking relevant talent also involves educating her clients about the costs involved and the fact that a contract can call for a celebrity to do more than simply show up. If a client wants a celebrity to tweet about the brand or event, that can often be negotiated. “There are so many opportunities now with social media,” she says. “All of those things have to be put into the contract so everybody is protected.”
For the Wade’s World Weekend in Chicago, a three-day fund-raising event for Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade’s foundation in September 2009, event manager Lisa Furst of Agency 21 Consulting called on Iacobazzi Pecci to coordinate the entertainment for a benefit dinner, a bowling gala, and a community event. “Donna helped us secure [the Chicago Catz] for the Thursday night dinner, and then on Friday night and Saturday night she secured two DJs,” Furst said. “She really helped us out within our budget.”
Iacobazzi Pecci also worked with Jennifer Podkasik of JSH&A Public Relations to book an appearance by Ashlee Simpson-Wentz at a Hershey’s product launch in New York in late January. “One thing that stands out about Donna and Leverage 8 is the attention to detail and the level of communication,” Podkasik says. “It’s not a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. mind-set with her. She will communicate with us into the later hours of the evening and the weekend, which shows her dedication to the project.”