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The PRmoment Podcast: Are social budgets now moving beyond PR firms again?

On the PRmoment Podcast, this week is Adam Clyne, founder of Coolr, and we’re going to talk about what social agencies do and how that compares to what PR firms do.

Clearly, PR firms say they do social. But to what extent do they do social compared to the broader, or perhaps deeper, social remit of social agencies? And is this a problem for PR agencies? Do they need to worry about that? Or are they better off out of a very competitive social agency market?

To introduce our guest, Adam Clyne. He started in PR, and then he made the move into advertising with JWT. Adam launched his own digital agency called The Lab in 2002, which he then sold to the agency that is now called Kindred. He also had spells at TVC and Weber Shandwick.

He launched his own social media agency, Coolr, in 2017.

When I last interviewed Adam in 2020, Coolr had 20 employees. Now, in Nov 2023, it has 90. Adam won’t tell me his fee income, but there’s clearly a lot of growth in those in 3 years, especially considering Coolr doesn't buy much paid media, the reasons for which we’ll talk about later in the show.

Coolr clients include Burger King and Deliveroo.

Thanks to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors, The PRCA.

Also, a heads up to our PRmoment Podcast data partners - Meltwater.

2.30 mins Where does PR fit into the world of social media marketing, and where does social media marketing fit into the world of PR?

“Social and PR are kindred spirits, but there are a lot of differences and nuances between them.”

“Sometimes something that starts in the world of PR and media can explode into the world of social.”

“We never take on a PR brief. We prefer to be absolute specialists within social…there are nuances and differences in the ways of thinking and the ways of working.”

5 mins Are there areas that PR firms tend to play and areas where social media agencies own?

“When it comes to our competitor set, it’s very rare for us to compete against PR agencies.”

“The infrastructure is fundamentally different between how a PR agency is structured and how a PR firm is structured….and I’ve been in both.”

6.30 mins Who owns social client side - comms, brand or marketing?

8 mins What is the difference between social-earned media and PR-earned media? In terms of the type of campaign and the type of creative?

“Where the worlds are a little bit closer are the hero campaigns… those moments in time…The work we do is always on, a publishing approach.”

10.30 mins How do brands set themselves up as publishers on social?

12 mins What types of skill sets does a social agency need to create and activate content?

“Very few people here are from a PR agency background…We have people from publishers,...we have people from a TV background..from a social first background.”

15 mins How do the social channels break down in terms of the demographics of their audience?

“TikTok is getting older, and Facebook is still very powerful and potent…but it’s more about the content that works with the audience...It’s a platform-first approach.”

“We want to play in culture.”

“Are there things in the draw ready for certain situations? 100% But you can’t plan for every situation. You have to have the agility to be ready, the process with the client to be able to approach stuff while it's a cultural moment, but more importantly, you have to have the trust from a brand.”

28 mins To what extent can AI automate customer service on social?

“You’ve got to be careful about automation of responses. Particularly on community management.”

30 mins How does Coolr structure your earned creator production teams?

“The creator economy is now a multi $billion industry.”

“Consumers are happy for creatives to make money…but why shouldn’t that content be as good as the rest of the content they are producing?”

“It’s about creator rather than influence now. It’s about how do you showcase a product in a native social first way?”

35 mins 70% of Coolr’s work is for retained clients. That’s like going back ten years for many PR firms. Most PR firms' ratio of retained versus project clients is circa 50% project-based. Why has PR seen that trend towards project income, but social agencies haven't?

“A publishing editorial mindset requires a longer-term commitment from a brand. It’s not for everybody.”

“I have a different mindset when I’m in different channels.”

44 mins Why doesn’t Coolr buy much-paid media on social?

“There are specialists out there doing a brilliant job. We’d prefer to work with them. I like to keep to the swim lanes.”

49 mins Do you think the PR industry should be worried that Coolr never pitches against consumer PR firms?

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