Social still treated as an 'afterthought' by PR agencies

Social is still treated as an 'afterthought' by many PR agencies, according to panellists at the 'Advocacy is the New Advertising' conference held in London yesterday.

Following a discussion called 'Are vloggers advocacy royalty?' at the conference, hosted by The&Partnership, Joy Campbell, head of brand partnerships at online music and lifestyle broadcaster SB.TV, told PRWeek: "It’s frustrating that YouTube and social is still seen as an afterthought by many PR agencies, when they come to the end of their budgets. They make content and think that’s enough, but it’s not. People wont come to you; content needs to be seeded, put out there, promoted."

She added that PR agencies and ad agencies needed to collaborate to make the process more integrated.

Campbell was joined by pop culture and men's fashion vlogger Jim Chapman, whose YouTube channel attracts four million views a month. Chapman said he turns down around 90 per cent of the branded content he is asked to promote: "I have an intimate connection with my followers and if an agency or brand asks me to do something I don't want to, I walk away."

Tom Thirlwall, CEO of digital media company Bigballs, added: "We started collaborating with vloggers, people that have an influence within the audience we wanted to tap into.

"Our fan base is the thing we have to protect the most, so it's about working with brands that will give you freedom to say no and are in it for the long term."

Campbell agreed, saying that letting go was key, and "brands need to trust us to know our audience".

Thirlwall pointed out that a social campaign is a different model to a TV advert, which is high impact and has high return noticeability. Social is a "far more longer, integrated process" that becomes authentic and feels like it has integrity.

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