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nick gold

Keeping it ‘real’ in an online world

By Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner and incoming president of the International Association of Speaker Bureaus

A natural consequence of the digital world we now live in is the disconnect between our ‘real’ identity and our ‘digital’ identity, begging the question, how can we as companies make genuine connections between our online personas and our clients real life experience?

This is an especially big challenge for us in the events and conference sector where we work in an industry which is all about delivering the live experience, and yet we all survive and thrive by our digital persona. 

The digital identity and the offline identity of any business needs to make sure that the messages and content being delivered are consistently aligned. This ensures any client, or potential client, immediately understands who the company is, what they do, what they stand for and how they operate.  In this age where transparency and purpose is of absolute importance for a company to succeed in the business environment, this clarity and consistency of message is absolutely critical.

We pride ourselves that we have over 3,500 reviews of the various speakers on our system from members of the team which grows daily. Every year, we send 2 or 3 members from across the company up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to scout out the latest talent from the comedy and entertainment world, we will welcome 2 or 3 speakers into our office every week and have members of the team out every night listening to speakers.

This ensures that when we are speaking to our clients about our product, the speakers or hosts, we are speaking from our own experiences as much as from the information we have on hand.  We pride ourselves on understanding the artists and how they can deliver exactly what our clients need.

At Speakers Corner, we work with keynote speakers, event hosts, comedians and so on to give the best expert advice to our clients about who the right person is for their event.  We get plenty of material from the speakers, which we study and watch so we have a great understanding of who the speakers are, what their strengths are and how they best fit into an event for instance.

Our marketing and digital teams work hard to make sure all this information is readily available both for website visitors and to help support our advice during conversations with our clients. Yet, we are hypersensitive to the balance of our offline and online persona as a company and the values we seek to live and portray to our clients.  

The interesting challenge for us in this digital world, where the greatest library in the world is just a click away and where individuals and businesses can portray a very different online portrayal to the reality of the offline or ‘real’ delivery, is how we as a business deliver confidence and demonstrate to our clients the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to ensure that the values and principles that we adhere to, and which are proudly displayed on our website, are lived and breathed in the ‘real world’.

Yes, for the world of travel, TripAdvisor revolutionised the world of reviews and that has been replicated in other sectors but I am not convinced that has helped travel businesses ensure their offline and online experiences are seamless and complementary, as this is focussed around reviews of the actual product rather than the whole service. 

A starting point is to make sure a company’s digital persona reflects the values we strive for in the real world. We use our real persona (conversations, meetings, networking and so on), to educate any client the lengths we will go, to ensure the company mission statement you read on the website matches your real experience with us.  This convergence between the digital experience and the real world is what will separate out those that succeed and grow, to those that might just survive.