Category Archives: Small Grid

#BTHECHANGE: GONG’S JOURNEY TO B CORP CERTIFICATION

#BTHECHANGE: GONG’S JOURNEY TO B CORP CERTIFICATION

Sara Bonafair, senior account executive, Gong Communications

Up until 2016, I’d never given much thought to toilet paper. That was until I was assigned the task of taking my company through the B Corp certification process. Now I am a stickler for upholding the small changes, like eco-friendly toilet paper, that helped us achieve the highest standard of overall social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability required to become a certified B Corporation.

We set certification as a goal for ourselves in the summer of 2016. I was not familiar with the B Corp movement previously, but what attracted me to Gong in the first place, its mission to help purpose-driven businesses do extraordinary things for people, planet and profit, is exactly what made Gong eligible for certification.

Certified B Corps, which also count Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Etsy among their number, aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. There are more than 2,000 certified B Corporations in over 120 industries and 50 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business. To become certified, a company must satisfactorily answer 166 questions covering a company’s business model, governance, workers, community, and environment (that’s where the toilet paper comes in).

The process is rigorous but companies starting the journey may find that they don’t need to change a whole lot. Some small changes for us included switching to recycled printer paper, implementing quarterly company-wide financial performance meetings, and formalising existing practices into company policies, such as client feedback forms, preferred supplier lists, and a diversity and inclusion policy; practices that existed but just needed formalising. Committing ourselves to our values in this way has helped us bake our mission into our DNA.

After about six months of answering questions and making small changes to help us put our best foot forward, we submitted our questionnaire to the reviewers, who would randomly select answers for us to prove. In June of 2017, we finally made it! From beyond the finish line it is easy to see how much the B Corp certification process has helped Gong grow and we now have two non-executive directors to enable us to lead the charge as one of only a handful of marketing and communications B Corps in the UK.

As for me, after diving deep into every detail of how Gong does what it does, and coming out on the other side with an official B Corp certification, I’m impressed with how the team lives out the company values every day, and am proud to have helped create a legacy that will help uphold this commitment for years to come.

CAN PRIVATE EQUITY EMBRACE PURPOSE POWERED BUSINESS?

CAN PRIVATE EQUITY EMBRACE PURPOSE POWERED BUSINESS?

Narda Shirley, managing director, Gong Communications

The subject of purpose powered business and the issues that inspire CEOs and entrepreneurs alike have been keeping us occupied for a while here at Gong as we’ve worked on the Purpose Powered Business book for John O’Brien and Andy Cave and joined the B Corps community. Our other big focus is private equity, so it felt natural to think hard about the appeal and challenges of one to the other. Chatting to experts in leadership search and assessment helped crystallise an insight that purpose in business is really a people issue. Read our article here on why we think talent will be the reason that private equity allows purpose to sit alongside profit as one of its key objectives.

FOCUS ON REPUTATIONAL CAPITAL

FOCUS ON REPUTATIONAL CAPITAL

Nairobi, Kenya. 6 July 2017

Beverly Amira, MD Gong Kenya

On 6 July Gong Kenya, Moody’s Investor Services and the Business Council for Africa (BCA) collaborated to stage a breakfast event on the subject of ‘Reputation Capital’ in Nairobi. The two speakers, Gong’s Group MD, Narda Shirley and Moody’s Head of Relationships in Africa, Sylvia Chahonyo, were introduced by Michael Monari, the BCA’s East Africa representative, who set out the membership body’s mission to help businesses make valuable new connections in Europe and in Africa among its community of 4000 members. The fifty-strong audience this morning included communications professionals and business leaders from industries as diverse as banking, insurance, technology, travel, real estate, private equity, government and energy. The breakfast discussion centred on the business value of reputation – how to crystallise, measure, manage, and protect it. Gong provided its 10 top tips for best practice in building and defending corporate reputations, giving a special shout out to B Labs East Africa and the certified B Corp community, which Gong has recently joined (B Corp certification is to business what fair trade is to coffee). Third party expert views and customer reviews, awards and accreditations were cited as key in building reputation ‘in peace time’ in the context of developing robust crisis communications strategies before trouble hits your business. Moody’s focused on the role of credit ratings agencies in risk management, explaining to the audience how this role is localised for the African continent. And the event wrapped with insightful questions from the audience on the role of internal communications in building workplace cultures that can withstand crises. Audience feedback was immediately positive to the point that Gong Kenya has already committed to host two more events in the series, one on ‘Cultural Capital’ and the other on ‘Social Capital’.

 

Download the Reputation Capital Presentation, Nairobi. 6 July 2017 here.

Ecuador’s Tourist Board

MEDIA RELATIONS AND BRAND BUILDING

ECUADOR’S TOURIST BOARD

The Challenge

The Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism retained Gong to support the country in attracting more 30-50 year-old tourists from the UK through its Feel Again Project. The global project brought together national artists who developed a work of art designed to highlight the appeal and raise the profile of Ecuador as a tourist destination. Gong was tasked with maximizing UK media engagement and coverage around the project.

The Strategy

To ensure impactful positioning we recommended a multi-tiered approach involving carefully targeted social and print media. Attracting media attention through clever writing, Ecuadorian chocolate and teasing the hashtag #allyouneedisEcuador, we then engaged key lifestyle bloggers and vloggers aimed at the correct demographic to support the campaign. We strategically placed commentary and editorial pieces from the artists along with stunning images to selected media whilst running a Stylist online competition with a trip to Ecuador as the prize. Gong also hosted a press breakfast at an authentic Ecuadorian restaurant in London to launch the project website.

The Outcome

During the short campaign period, Gong successfully supported the Ministry of Tourism in its objective to profile Ecuador as the tourist destination of choice for 30-50 year olds (tourism data yet to be released). The holiday competition and the press coverage reached approximately 19 million people.

ECP

REPUTATION BUILDING FOR AN INDUSTRY PIONEER

EMERGING CAPITAL PARTNERS

Some examples of our work with ECP:

ECP invests in Nairobi Java House

When ECP took a stake in Kenya’s leading café and casual dining company, Nairobi Java House (NJH),  Gong provided communications support at national and international level.

In Nairobi, we helped the ECP team on the ground to manage how the story played out in the local press by working closely with NJH’s CEO, Kevin Ashley. In anticipation of the news breaking, we advised on the internal messaging for the wider NJH team in Nairobi. In tandem, we worked with the international business and private equity press to tell the story of this exciting deal resulting in ongoing print and broadcast coverage.

Work hasn’t stopped there: Since the deal was announced, we have helped craft award entries resulting in ECP being named Africa Investor’s ‘Private Equity Deal of the Year’ winner at its annual awards.

 

International press coverage for ECP portfolio company

When Wananchi Group, one of Emerging Capital Partners’ portfolio companies, successfully closed an investment round, Gong promoted the news in the global business press.

Working closely with the Wananchi team we drafted a comprehensive press release and messaging after liaising with a number of stakeholders and investors. To ensure that coverage in the East African media and telecoms market was as objective and informed as possible, we interviewed the company’s CEO and wrote the story in a way that appealed to a global audience. This was pitched to international business journalists with the aim that the messaging would filter through to positively influence the tone of the local African media coverage.

We succeeded in gaining widespread coverage for Wananchi’s story. The BBC featured Wananch whilst further print coverage appeared in the Financial Times, Reuters Africa, Bloomberg, Dow Jones and a number of other top tier international publications. Coupled with the local African coverage that contained favourable messages, we contributed in creating a strong pipeline for further global investment.

 

 

Lloyd’s Dive In Festival

EVENT AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT

LLOYD’S OF LONDON

The Challenge

Inclusion@Lloyd’s is a group of 15 leaders from around the Lloyd’s insurance market who were brought together by its CEO, Inga Beale, to champion and steer diversity and inclusion best practice for an industry that must attract and retain the best talent in the face of complex global challenges. Inclusion@Lloyd’s challenged Gong to develop a brand platform to bring diversity and inclusion alive in the Lloyd’s market in an inspirational and engaging way that people would be motivated by, primarily for the business case to practice better diversity and inclusion in their companies. The result was Dive In – what began as an initiative of Lloyd’s in just one country in 2015 has become a global initiative across the entire insurance sector, attracting support from firms in financial services, recruitment and law.

The Strategy

Gong developed the brand concept for Dive In, and ran logistics and communications for each festival in a composite multi-stakeholder environment with a global reach of 1.8million.

This involved developing the website and app on both Apple and Android, curating marketing collateral including a 40-page festival programme, sponsorship offerings, organising a wealth of video and photography capture, running the press office and creating buzz through launch events, branded coffee cart, street facing branding of the iconic Lloyd’s building, stakeholder communications in each of the 17 countries, and running global steering committee meetings from London.

The Outcome

Described as a ‘brave and bold event’ by Marketing Week, the success of Dive In has been widely recognised by awards in the insurance sector, marketing and PR experts and employers’ networks. These include: PRCA Employee Engagement Award; Insurance Marketing and PR Awards Event of the Year; Corp Comms Magazine Best Live Event; Insurance Day Diversity & Talent Management Initiative of the Year and Marketing Week and The British Insurance Awards Diversity Champion. The festival’s immediate results in reaching its goals was shored up by quantitative research revealing that 99% of the 7,000+ attendees agreed diversity and inclusion was good for business and 92% said their understanding of the issues had changed as a result of the festival. Gong secured positive and extensive media coverage across the globe, reaching stakeholders throughout the insurance sector and beyond. Dive In 2017 had a footprint across six continents with over 80 events in 32 cities.

Economist Events

EXTENDING THE REACH OF BUSINESS EVENTS

ECONOMIST EVENTS

The Challenge

The Economist sought increased interest and online conversation for its highest profile conferences to provide additional value to sponsors and business leaders speaking at the events. Gong was tasked with reinforcing the high calibre brand of Economist Conferences capable of attracting the highest level speakers, delegates and sponsors; increasing media interest and to create an online buzz on the issues raised at these conferences.

The Strategy

Gong initially supported The Economist’s marketing teams with social media strategy and implementation. This has expanded over five years into providing media relations and social media support for specific high profile conferences, 22 so far, covering retail banking, energy, natural resources, human capital, emerging markets and innovation. We have recommended promoting the use of blogs, online opinion pieces, Twitter and LinkedIn by speakers and delegates at these events to complement a broadcast media strategy. To kick-start online conversations, we created many of the talking point opportunities ahead of time and matched these to the appropriate audiences.

The Outcome

We have secured opportunities on media such as Reuters and CNN for guest speakers to contribute guest blogs; targeted the most relevant and popular specialist LinkedIn groups; seen a 400% rise in Twitter followers in the three week run up to certain events and developed comments for spokespeople to post to generate discussions around the conferences.

Garden City

INTEGRATED COMMS AND CREATIVE

GARDEN CITY

The Challenge

Garden City, an expansive real estate complex in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, comprises East Africa’s largest retail mall, residential and office space, a hotel and grounds. The complexity of the project meant that a varied and extensive mix of contractors was involved from the very start. The Garden City team sought a one stop shop for all their marketing and communications needs to support the property sales teams; position the mall to attract high footfall and manage all aspects of the launch.

The Strategy

With a London and Nairobi team of PR specialists and in-house creatives, Gong was a good match for Garden City’s extensive marcomms needs. We advised on the necessity for a strong brand right from the outset and the initial part of the brief focused on strengthening the visuals and strap lines, a new website design and setting up social media channels and a digital newsletter to win local buy-in to the project. We event managed the launch, ran the Garden City press office, and handled crisis communications.

The Outcome

Gong won the Best Brand launch award 2016 from The Asian Weekly for its successful management of the opening of Garden City in September 2015 organising all aspects of the launch including media relations. Gong Creative designed billboards were erected well in advance, adverts placed and marketing materials redeveloped and distributed. In just one week we secured 20+ articles in targeted media.

 

Olam International

BUILDING INTERNATIONAL REPUTATIONS

OLAM INTERNATIONAL

Some examples of our work with one of the world’s leading agri-businesses.

Showcasing global breadth

Gong was tasked with raising the profile of Olam’s global presence through the launch of new state-of-the-art processing facilities in West Africa.

Our role was to help bring Olam’s African-centric stories to the attention of the international press. We helped introduce a new corporate theme across the organisation’s PR activities, and ensured the message was consistent across all platforms by working closely with local agencies. In addition, we pitched interviews with Olam’s CEO, Sunny Verghese, to leading Africa-focused publications.

Forbes Africa and The African Report carried out in-depth interviews with Verghese which were followed by editorial pieces. The prestigious launch, which demonstrated Olam’s commitment to Africa while reinforcing its international leadership in agri-business, was inaugurated by the Presidents of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Convening thought leaders: A Portfolio of Perspectives

To celebrate Olam’s 25th year, Gong developed a ‘Portfolio of Perspectives’, an anthology of short essays from business leaders and other visionary thinkers on transcending boundaries (the meaning of Olam) on the macro issues linked to global food security.

The 2015 series featured contributions on topics such as what it takes to be a 21st century commodity trader by WWF’s Jason Clay, why investor Jim Rogers believes the farmers of the future will be driving Lamborghinis, and the role of national trade policies in ensuring food security by author Paul McMahon.

The Portfolio of Perspectives was run as a mini-series on global development and sustainability platform Business Fights Poverty, featured in a contributed article on the Guardian Sustainable Business network and in Singapore business media The Business Times and Straits Times, with Twitter activity spiking around the publication of eachpiece.

Featuring contributions from recognised global leaderssuch as Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, this portfolio showcases Olam as a convener of debate and catalyst for change on global issues ranging from food and water security to inclusive development and sustainable growth, celebrating the spirit of collaboration that has been a hallmark of Olam’s success to date.

Communicating insightful research

Olam commissioned research looking at the social impacts of female employment among the women working in its processing plants in emerging markets in support of International Women’s Day.

Gong helped to design the survey that was conducted among 6000 women from rural communities. Results from Côte d’Ivoire, India,Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Vietnam were analysed and a set of insights were developed to identify the personal and social benefits of employment beyond the obvious financial reasons.

The results, underlining the significance of confidence and choices among women, and why businesses growing in emerging markets should recognise the value of empowering female workers, were communicated through a global news announcement supported by broadcast interviews and opinion editorial. News and feature coverage was secured in BBC’s Africa Business Report and Voice of America’s Africa News Tonight as well as featuring on the IWD blog site. Tailored material was also created for local outreach in thecountries where the survey was conducted and the initiative fed into an internal communications campaign as well as providing content for social media activity.

Gong rings out the changes with rebrand

GONG RINGS OUT THE CHANGES WITH REBRAND

New visual identity and vision for Gong marks milestone in company’s growth

London, 6th July 2016:  Since Gong was launched 12 years ago, the communications industry has undergone seismic changes. Then, there was no Twitter, no Instagram, no Snapchat. LinkedIn was only a year old with 756,000 users compared to upwards of 350 million now.  Digitalisation and globalisation have changed, beyond recognition, the way we communicate.  It’s not only this industry as a whole that has evolved; Gong has too.

Gong Creative and Gong Kenya were opened in 2012, a new team is on board,  and already this year Gong’s client work has won or been shortlisted for seven awards.  Narda Shirley, managing director of Gong Communications said: “It’s been a year of significant growth and success for Gong so we’ve looked inwards and done something we advise our clients to do; refreshed our brand. We’re attracting some talented young minds and we’ve taken the opportunity to reflect more closely on who we are and what we cherish in our work. We value purpose in the work we do for our clients. The time was right to rebrand to mirror this vision.”

Gong’s rebrand from concept to identity to new website has been designed and produced entirely in-house.