Celebrity publicists are communications professionals who manage the public image of one or more famous clients. They write press releases, manage public appearances and give advice on how a celebrity can enhance his image and boost his value in the process. Celebrity publicists usually earn salaries, but various types of pay are possible in the profession.
A celebrity publicist's base pay comes from an annual salary, either directly from the client or as a regular wage from a public relations agency that serves as an intermediary between agents and clients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the median annual salary for a celebrity publicist is in the mid-$55,000 range, as of 2008. Individual publicists may earn more or less based on their experience and their clients' demands.
Celebrity publicists may earn hourly wages. A typical publicist's $55,000 annual salary equates to around $26 per hour given an average work schedule. However, celebrity publicists often work long and irregular hours, which means an opportunity for more pay. Hourly publicists may earn overtime for working beyond a given number of hours in a week or pay period. Those who travel with their clients or oversee the top-level celebrities their company works with are more likely to earn annual salaries, with work schedules that demand their time around the clock.
A celebrity publicist can also earn money in the form of incentive pay. This includes bonuses for helping a client reach certain goals; it may also include a bonus from the agency for getting a celebrity client to agree to a representation deal. Celebrity clients may also offer percentage-based commissions to their publicists — as they do to their agents for procuring new business or organizing events, such as public appearances and speaking engagements — that come with a paycheck.
Celebrity publicists may also receive pay in the form of reimbursement for money they spend on their own. Publicists may need to entertain clients who have interest in doing business with or hiring the publicist's famous client. Managing these meetings may involve travel, dinners and attendance at special events such as film festivals, industry conventions and sporting events. Publicists can use expense accounts or reimbursement to cover these work-related costs, despite their enjoyable or exclusive nature.