Last week, Eventline looked at the payoff versus the pain when party rental companies are asked to donate their goods and services to reality TV shows.

In an informal poll from Special Events, respondents who have contributed to reality TV shows seem to be evenly split between those who loved the experience and would do it again, and those who thought it was all give with no payback.

GET REAL

What's the secret to success with reality TV? Understand what you're getting into and how to reap the rewards, says Kevin Covey. The Brea, Calif.-based wedding planner, head of Kevin Covey Wedding and Event Coordination, is a veteran of many wedding-related reality shows including "Platinum Weddings," "Whose Wedding is It Anyway?" "Wedding Altered," "Amazing Wedding Cakes" "and a few pilots that never even aired," he says.

With the exception of "Platinum Weddings," which films weddings for which the bride has already contracted vendors, many wedding shows work out agreements with vendors to donate product and services in return for some TV exposure, such as showing the rental company's trucks or having the program host mention the rental company's name, Covey says.

GET IT IN WRITING

But don't assume you will get coverage, Covey warns. "One has to know that there is a possibility that you will not make the cut if you don't have a formal agreement in writing," he says.

Wise vendors will also learn to live with TV's "hurry up and wait" production schedules. "With reality television, one must understand that the filming is always very last-minute, and you could get a call the week of the wedding to provide services in just a few days, which is very typical for the TV world," Covey notes.

Finally, don't assume that once the program airs, clients will come calling. "In the long run, TV time is very costly and if your services can be shown on TV, that is great, so the risk can be really worth it," Covey says. "However, it is the role of the vendors to do their own marketing, advertising that they are on the show and have been featured."

See the full story in the May-June issue of Special Events.

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