Congratulations to a former Holyrood PR client for making the bold leap into the world of social media.
The team at Commsworld have spent the past 10 years turning the company into Scotland’s biggest independent phone and network provider.
As a specialist in helping other businesses to improve their communications it is unsurprising that the man at the helm is himself a natural communicator.
Ricky Nicol has the gift of the gab, which perhaps explains why he has always been a champion of public relations – and has worked with several firms offering PR in Scotland, my own included.
Each time he has enjoyed traditional media success and coverage in all the right places. Commsworld usually has a story for the business press and is a shoo-in for the specialist comms media.
Moreover, with a storyteller like Ricky always available for interview, there is usually a fair likelihood of coverage in the more mainstream newspapers as well.
Here’s the rub, though. Whenever Commsworld enjoys a spurt of PR activity they see little, if any, upsurge in sales. It is a similar story when they try advertising.
Frustrating, or what? Bear in mind this company is no slouch in business terms. It’s just that in a field so specialist, the business comes through the hard-graft of the sales team and word of mouth referrals.
My own work with Commsworld was at a time when it was too early to exploit social media, but the company’s word-of-mouth track records could be ideal for making the most of the new conversational channels.
Martina Corr, who handles all the firm’s comms and marketing and has now integrated social media into the company’s newly relaunched website.
She’s been pushing hard for this – and good on here as I know only too well how tricky it can be convincing even the most successful businesspeople to take seriously channels like Twitter and YouTube.
Martina’s already crossed one of the biggest hurdles by getting the buy-in of someone senior in the company, in this case the man at the very top.
Since she oversees the regular Commsworld newsletter, she’s a dab hand at coming up with the content. That will be crucial as she works to populate the Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts, as well as a new company blog.
There are still some major challenges ahead. It takes a long time to build a social media community and it depends on building trust, transparency and credibility – the new currencies of successful online business.
That can’t be done by simply putting the old-style corporate literature on Twitter.
Understanding the difference between the old ways of communicating and the new, including sometimes uncomfortably honest conversations with customers, will be what separates social media success stories from those rivals they leave in their wake.
Best of luck to Commsworld with their dive into social media. A year from now I hope they are starting to reap real benefits.