Clubhouse isn't perfect, but for PRs there's a lot to get excited about

Image: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images
Image: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

In the early hours of Monday morning, Elon Musk ‘broke’ Clubhouse.

Speaking live on the app that everyone wants an invitation to right now, the 5,000-room limit was smashed. Dozens of overflow rooms were set up, and it was one in, one out. There were even live Twitter feeds sharing his anecdotes if you couldn't get into a room.

So why’s Clubhouse getting so much hype?

For starters, where else can you be a fly on the wall in a conversation between Musk and Vladimir Tenev, chief executive of Robinhood? It's already become an alternative form of alternative new media, and is breaking news stories (faster than Twitter).

In short, Clubhouse is the audio-based social app, with a $1bn valuation.

I’d liken it to a podcast or webinar, except it’s live, interactive and immersive. Kind of like listening to 5 Live, just with your industry peers, journalists, CEOs, VCs, millionaires and Ashton Kutcher as guests.

It’s all about virtual rooms. You drop in and out of live conversations, and if you want to talk, you raise your ‘hand’ and the moderator gives you permission to speak ‘on stage’. It’s a place to share advice, ask questions and debate. Or, you can just sit back, take notes, and listen in.

There are live rooms dedicated to auditions for Hamilton the musical, and last week Sami Steigmann became the first Holocaust survivor on Clubhouse to share his story with a room of hundreds, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. There are rooms for pretty much everything you can imagine, and more.

There are also multiple PR, marketing, advertising, branding and social media rooms and ‘clubs’ popping up daily, covering all sectors. The challenge is finding the good ones – right now it’s a little chaotic, but it’s early days.

Clubhouse provides a refreshing way to network with like-minded marketers, and there are endless opportunities for PRs to use the platform – as an insight tool (TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher’s ‘The Midweek Media Show’ is a must-listen for any tech PRs), to share expert advice, boost your personal profile, or suggest a client joins to raise theirs.

With plans to launch ticketed events, tipping and subscriptions, it will be interesting to watch how brands, creators and moderators (the influencers of 2021) will use Clubhouse. To really make a room worthwhile, surely they’ll need to open up the platform to everyone, rather than being gated and a casual conversation as it is now?

For brands, it'll be interesting to see which moves first, with only the likes of Grenade and Gymshark setting up official brand accounts from what I can see. The challenge will be how they embrace audio to gain listeners, and how creative they can be. Unlike YouTube, Instagram or TikTok, where someone like Joe Wicks can rally the nation to do star jumps live, I'm not sure what Clubhouse can really offer a personality like him, right now, that's more engaging than existing platform options.

There’s certainly room for improvement and more regulation (you just have to Google to read about some of the controversies), but there’s also a lot to be excited about. In a world without in-person events taking place, and millions of people across the planet craving new ways to communicate with each other, I really hope it’s here to stay.

Jonny Stanton is associate director at Common Industry.

This story first appearead on PRWeek UK.

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