Lee Tea is an event coordinator and promo model veteran with experience working for brands both large and small.
How to Break into the Promo Model Business
Hello! I'm Leanne. I've worked as a promotional model since 2006, representing some of the largest and most recognizable products and brands in the world, including Guinness, PNC Bank, Gillette, and Pepsi. I've come across a series of articles discussing "How to Be a Beer Girl" in which hoards of teenage and college girls are throwing their emails and contact information at the author in hopes of getting a job. So to do us all a favor here (and in the interest of safety), I'm going to use my seven years of industry experience to simply explain to you how to get a job as a promotional model. First, let's clear up a few misconceptions.
Common Misconceptions About Working as a Beer Girl
- You have to look like a model to be a promotional model. This is not true. Promotional models are sales and marketing professionals hired to promote the name, brand, and image of a product to potential customers. They include jobs such as brand ambassadors, showcase hosts/hostesses, event staff, spokespersons, and even sales representatives. "Beer girls" are not runway models, but brand ambassadors, spokespeople, and event staff hired to relay information and promotional products to guests of an event's venue.
- "They [promotional models] get most of their confidence from being around a crowd of people and knowing that these people are treating them like a celebrity". This quote from another online article on "How to Be a Beer Girl" is very, very false. This would not create confidence in anyone scared from stage fright, no matter how many people surrounded her or how much they treated her like a celebrity. Promotional models are A-type personalities and are great at sales. They can recite a script and smile. Being conversational is helpful. This is a sales, marketing, and promotional job, so experience in any of these areas will translate well, and (believe it or not) go much farther in the business than a pretty face. Makeup can take care of your looks, but not your ability to interact, engage the customer, close that script, and do your job of getting the name, image, and brand of the product in the minds of potential customers.
- If I'm at an event, maybe I'll get "discovered" or be offered a job. At least I could give them my info. It's true; you could. You may even be recruited by the staff at an event, as I've offered the position to a few people at events over the years if they were interested. But you won't get hired unless you register with the marketing company that's executing the event, so let me explain how to do that now.
How to Get the Job
Most of the time, it is not the product doing the event. That is to say, "Pepsi" doesn't plan a giveaway at the ballpark, and "Captain Morgan" doesn't send girls from their distillery to your local bar. Promotional Models are hired through a third-party marketing agency. It is this agency that coordinates the event with the venue, supplies the swag (giveaways like necklaces, t-shirts, etc.), and supplies the trained models. If you want to be a promotional model, you'll need to register yourself in the databases of the marketing companies hired to staff these promotional events. Here are a few reputable and legitimate marketing agencies I have actually worked for that typically have lots of work available.
3 Good Promotional Model Staffing Agencies
- Triple Point Promotions
- Fusion Event Staffing
- Cosibella Promotional Modeling
You can find more companies working in your town by searching craigslist under "gigs" for promotional events coming to your area. Avoid the ads looking for free photoshoot models and the like and focus on the ones that introduce the name of the agency, the dates of the event, legitimate location of the event, offer an hourly rate of $10–$40/hr, and have contact and website information clearly posted. You should be able to register your profile on their website, and they will contact you when work is available in your area.
How to Be a Good Promotional Model
The actual job is not to just stand around looking pretty . . . that will get you fired. The image of "beer girls having fun because they're getting a lot of attention" is, just like marketing itself, an illusion. You have fun because you enjoy the job of promoting a product, and you have the same amount of fun whether there are 10 or 10,000 people at your event. It's what you're paid to do. You are hired by a marketing agency to promote the name, brand, and image of the client (the product) by talking one-on-one to potential customers using direct marketing procedures.
You are given a script to memorize and product points to convey to every single person you talk to. You may have to play games with the audience, like trivia about your product. You'll most likely have "swag," or freebies to give away to the guests of the establishment, and giving these away to people genuinely involved in and enjoying your promotion helps to create excitement both about your event and about your product.
You are hired to work your entire territory thoroughly and talk to every single person at the event. At the end of the event, you'll usually have to fill out a form to report on the event. Then, in the name of professionalism and "leaving a good taste in their mouths" (so to speak, or maybe literally if you were sampling free drinks) you leave the party you started! Remember, this is a sales and marketing position. A telemarketer would make a better promotional model than a runway model (Yes, I'm sending out an SOS to my fellow salesmen stuck in telemarketing land—why don't you check this out? You'd be great at it!)
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Like any job, being a promotional model has its ups and downs. If the job fits your personality, you'll likely enjoy it very much. In this section, we'll discuss the pros and cons of being a beer girl.
- Great Pay: Promotional models make a minimum of $10/hr (I've seen jobs listed as low as $8/hr, but this is more for food demo work in a supermarket type setting), usually making $20-$25 an hour and working a minimum of 4 hours a night. Oftentimes if the promotion does not run as long as expected, you are still paid for a minimum number of hours agreed upon before the event.
- Fun Work: You get paid to start the party! You're the hostess (or host), you have awesome items to give away, you're in a fun and festive atmosphere, and you are constantly ON THE MOVE!! You're not stuck at a desk, cold calling, or going door-to-door to make your money.
- Extremely Flexible Schedule: Most marketing agencies let you pick your events on a gig-by-gig basis without penalties, so you can work one weekend and not the next for whatever reason. (When you do pick up a gig though, you must commit to it for the duration, or you will not be asked back and may be fined. This will be explained in detail in your contract with the agency).
- Lack of Work: Not so much a problem in big cities, but in smaller cities and towns like mine, there is a busy season and a very, very slowwww season. My city is a college town, so once college is in session, work is available almost every weekend. In the summer there are almost no bar promotions through my agencies, so I'd have to check with other agencies and for events on craigslist to pick up other gigs like event staff for fairs, and showcase hostess for expos.
- Exclusivity: When the marketing agency hires you for your first gig, you'll be sent a contract to sign and return. The contract is necessary to protect the agency and to explain your role as a promotional model of a reputable company. Usually, the contract requires you to agree that for a specified amount of time (usually 2 years), you will not promote any of their competitors. In a small town, this can strangle the number of jobs available to you, so before signing with an agency, ask how much work they expect to have for you throughout the year.
- Hair, Make-Up, and Wardrobe: Your look will depend on the type of event you are working. For example, hair, make-up and wardrobe requirements were drastically different for my Dove promotion at Sam's Club then they were for my Svedka Vodka promotion at our town's most popular nightclub! (I'll have to post those pictures, the difference between to two is pretty funny). If you like doing the dress-up thing, this might fit better under the list of "pros" for you. I'm a hippie and a mother and a wife, so spending hours getting ready for an event really wasn't my style. Also, sometimes the outfits required for an event are intentionally outrageous - the skimpy dresses for Jose Cuervo vodka really weren't my husbands favorite choice for late night wifey going to the club. My favorite outfit ever was a dancing finger for the PA Lottery.
- 1099-MISCs: More often than not, you'll be an "independent contractor" for the marketing agency, not a payroll employee. As such, you will be issued a form 1099-MISC every year come tax time that reports how much money you've made for that agency. If it's under $600, you won't own any taxes. However, if you earned more than $600 from any one agency in the previous year, you'll have to pay taxes on your earnings. Taxes are not automatically deducted from your paycheck if you work as an "independent contractor". Just be aware of that.
My promotional resume includes representing nearly 30 clients, including Guinness, Bailey's Irish Creme, Bushmills, Owen's Corning, Johnnie Walker, Con-Agra, Jaegermeister, PNC Bank, Svedka Vodka, Gillette, Dundee's, Pepsi, Dove, Jose Cuervo, PA Lottery, Captain Morgan, Dick's Sporting Goods, DADS, DirecTV, the Four Aces Casino, Bath Fitter, Smirnoff, Crown Royal, a few magazines, and dozens of local businesses.
Most of these gigs I landed one at a time, so be prepared to apply to several agencies and keep up-to-date on your town's local events. Promotional modeling was one job I never felt I actually had to "work" at, and I hope you enjoy a long and exciting career in this field as I have. Best wishes!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 30, 2013:
Lol we've probably crossed paths a time or two :) Cheers Jessica - thanks for the nice comments!
Jessica Miller on September 30, 2013:
Great article! I lived in the same city as you and worked for a lot of the same clients. I hope we've met; you seem cool.
Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 23, 2013:
Kimberly I seem to have overlooked your post - thanks for the nice comment and for stopping by!
Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 15, 2013:
Hi Cosibella! I'm happy you approve, feel free to share the link to this article if you find it useful :)
Kimberly Vaughn from Midwest on November 11, 2012:
Sounds like fun! I have never heard of this job before. Great info!
Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 03, 2012:
I'm happy you appreciate this hub, Margarita Eden. Thanks for swinging by!
MargaritaEden from Oregon on September 02, 2012:
Great tips, very interesting hub, talking about unique content, here it is :) Thank you for sharing your experience with us!
Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on August 29, 2012:
Absolutely! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Maurice Reese from Atlanta, GA on August 29, 2012:
Thanks for the great promotional tips!