1. Why did you decide to start your business?
I started the original business, Dorland Training, with Gavin Duffy in 1992 in response to a perceived need for communications training, particularly in the area of media relations. There were many PR companies in operation at the time, but very few companies which specialized in training people to do it themselves – not the full PR package, which definitely needs to be handled by a specialist, but the front line media interviews. From the get go we were very busy, but we kept the business small and specialist. Over the years my hands on time has changed. In the nineties I took up a contract with RTE and then my family intervened – by then Gavin and I had married, and I needed to take some time out when my kids were small. We rebranded the business as Mediatraining.ie a number of years ago, and with Gavin’s involvement with the Dragon’s Den, I am busier than ever managing the show. We have broadened our offering recently to leadership and management training, prompted by our experience of brand building with the Dragons’ Den companies. I also do a lot of work with women in business.
2. What have been the biggest challenges and achievements for your business?
Over the years there has always been the nagging feeling that we should be growing – employing more people, offering more training options, reaching more of our target market – but in reality when something is not broken, why try to fix it. We are small and specialist and do what we do very well. People know how to find us, and what we can do for them. The return is in seeing a client perform really well when having questions fired at him or her on Prime Time, or delivering a presentation at a conference that gets a huge reaction. I have a client at the moment who is growing every day as a public speaker. Every time I see him I am impressed by how much he has improved since the last time. There are so many ill-prepared people who get up and speak at conferences and events and do it so badly. We sit at these things and listen politely, and then give out afterwards about how boring the speaker was, or how awful the ‘death by PowerPoint’ was. A small amount of training can make a huge difference to how you perform.
3. What are your plans for the future?
To take on new and interesting projects, to work with interesting people, to do what we do further afield.
4. Who do you look up to in business?
This will sound corny, but I really do look up to Gavin. He is a power-house of creativity and energy, and has an innate sense of how things should be done, and what will play right and what won’t. But he will be the first to admit he is not a detail person, and this is probably why we work so well together. I make sure the back end is completed. Another person I really admire is Michael O Leary, the one who runs HRM Recruit, not the fly boy! Michael set up in business on the same day as we did all those years ago in the serviced office next door to ours. He has grown the business strategically over the years and is now poised to take it to the next level internationally. He invited me to join his Board of Directors last year and I am really enjoying being a part of the story.
5. What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?
Love what you do, and only launch a product or service that you really, really believe the world can’t do without. That belief and passion is the only thing that will keep you focused and keep you driving forward. Money and fame and professional reputation are all good in their place, but on their own they are not enough as drivers.
6. How are you gaining visibility and promoting the business?
We have never engaged in big marketing or advertising campaigns. We do B2B promotions from time to time in specific areas and the work comes in.
7. Do you use any Social Media?
I have begun to use it quite a lot recently, but again I think I use it quite strategically, and usually to help the organiSers of an event that I am chairing or speaking
More about Orlaith
Orlaith Carmody is Managing Director of Mediatraining.ie, a company specialising in the communications training and management development of individuals and organisations. As a keynote speaker, conference chair and seminar leader, Orlaith has addressed some of Ireland’s most influential business people and networks on the subjects of professional business development and corporate leadership. Also a director of a number of other SMEs in recruitment and production, Orlaith regularly delivers engaging and energetic seminars on Pitching for Success, Building Confidence in the Workplace, Self Esteem, Goals and Strategy & Successful Networking; and she has also presented at international conferences in the USA and Canada.
Alongside founding her company, Mediatraining.ie, in 1992 Orlaith had a successful career as a print & broadcast journalist with several Irish news organisations including RTÉ, where she is today a member of the Board of Directors.
Orlaith is happily married to television ‘Dragon’ Gavin Duffy and together they have four teenagers. She is an active media commentator on her blog, www.orlaithcarmody.com and hosts and contributes to a variety of radio programmes on LMFM and Newstalk.