Staking a claim to social media: Digital agencies

'The strength of good digital agencies is that they will have the combination of strategic thinking, creative brilliance and technical build capability alongside the social outreach function, all in-house,' argues Nick Emmel, executive planning director at Dare, which was recently crowned 'digital agency of the decade' by PRWeek's sister title Campaign.

Staking a claim to social media: digital agencies
Staking a claim to social media: digital agencies

He adds: 'Traditional advertising will often outsource the build and outreach, whereas the PR agency may be weaker on the strategy and creative. But that is a generalisation.'

The whole pagckage

These strengths, and the potential weaknesses of traditional advertising and PR agencies, mean many clients may turn to digital agencies for what Emmel calls 'end-to-end solutions around a campaignable idea'. He cites as an example Dare's work on the FA squad selector campaign around the World Cup. 'The strategy and creative were indivisible from the PR outreach job so it made sense for the digital agency to lead, although we collaborated with a PR agency,' he says.

When it comes to pitching, Emmel says clients are increasingly looking for complete marketing solutions. This is a lesson for PR agencies if they are to take hold of social media budgets.

'With PR, I'd acknowledge its strength in "push" comms, but argue a business like ours is better at "pull" - inviting people to participate,' says Que Pasa Communications' Burrows, whose agency worked on the Tetley Tea Folk campaign.

Online reputation

He acknowledges PR agencies have a strong claim to manage channels like Twitter and Facebook, thanks to their experience in online reputation management, but believes digital agencies may have the creative edge.

For the PR industry, the challenge here is to develop more of a complete offering.

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