Category Archives: Small Grid


A well produced business book still has the effect of conferring authority on the author, especially when it comes from a respected publishing house and is reviewed in major media. Finding the inspirational spark, the right co-writer (or ghost) and engaging with the right publisher takes time and expertise. Getting the book in front of the right people pre-and post launch to ensure it makes its mark is also crucial for a successful project.




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.



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.



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



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.




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



The Challenge

Inclusion@Lloyd’s, the committee for governance and strategy for D&I in insurance, 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 32 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. Dive In has won or been shortlisted for 11 awards, won 7, and been widely praised and acknowledged across the industry.

A post festival survey revealed its impact with 99% attendees agreeing diversity and inclusion was good for business.

Gong secured positive and extensive media coverage across the globe, reaching stakeholders throughout the insurance sector and beyond. Dive In 2019 had a footprint across six continents with over 130 events in 65 cities.

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.

Gong & Lloyd’s of London win Marketing Week’s award


London, 13 May 2016: Praised as a ‘bold and brave’ event, the Dive In Festival for diversity and inclusion in insurance has won a prestigious industry award. Curated by Gong for our client Lloyd’s of London, Dive In won the Diversity Champion category at the Marketing Week awards beating off some stiff competition.  The judges also said: “Dive In ran a prominent event and really made their mark ensuring they are committed for the long term.”

The award was presented by Sir Lenny Henry at a glittering ceremony at the Roundhouse in London on May 12th.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Dive In has received this high profile recognition,” commented Narda Shirley, managing director at Gong Communications. “It was an honour to have been an integral part of a very exciting ‘first’ for the insurance industry with a wide-ranging brief spanning branding, video, events and workshops. Dive In 2016 is already looking even bigger and better!”

Following on from the hugely successful 2015 event, Gong has been re-appointed by Lloyd’s to curate Dive In on behalf of the Inclusion@Lloyd’s steering group. This year’s festival will be held between 27th-29th Sept 2016 and will include branded events across the globe as well as expanded participation outside the Lloyd’s Market.


Sarah Nicholas back from secondment with the African Entrepreneur Collective in Rwanda


Sarah Nicholas

As I struggle to warm my fingers after a freezing commute through London this morning, it’s hard to believe that this time last month I was spitting distance from the equator. I was in the land of a thousand hills – Rwanda – sharing my experiences as a communications consultant with some truly inspirational entrepreneurs and individuals while on secondment with the African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC) in Kigali.

Listening to the stories of entrepreneurs and colleagues there, it is clear that innovation is thriving in East Africa. But more than that, AEC’s mantra that ‘all solutions to Africa’s challenges already exist on the continent’ now feels more credible and tangible than ever.

Just one example is Marcel, who, having been orphaned by the genocide that decimated Rwanda in 1994, wanted to harness the main driver and instrument of destruction – media and youth – and turn them into a force for good. Now three years after launching, and with support from AEC, Marcel’s news website Umuseke is the second most read digital media outlet in Rwanda and employs 20 people – not bad for a 25 year old.

Another case in point is Rwanda’s answer to Uber, SafeMotos. The app combines booking software with black box technology to ensure customers are only hopping on the back of the safest motorbike taxi drivers in town, offering valuable peace of mind in a city where 80% of traffic accidents involve motos. Peter and Nash developed a go-to-market strategy with think – AEC’s tech incubator, funded by telecoms giant Tigo Rwanda – and the app now adorns billboards across the country.

But it wasn’t only the vision and determination of AEC’s entrepreneurs that blew me away, the passion and commitment of their own team was infectious.

A social enterprise with job creation as its ultimate goal, AEC is a collection of business incubators and accelerators who support local entrepreneurs enabling them to grow, employ others and make a long-term contribution to the economy. In two years, they have already helped 150 entrepreneurs to create 700 jobs and have big plans to expand to seven African countries within 10 years.

Having a soft spot for the entrepreneurial spirit and our own growing communications practice in East Africa, a partnership between Gong and AEC seemed a natural fit and I was luckily enough to be the first of the team to spend a month offering pro-bono comms consultancy and skills building to the organization and its entrepreneurs.

It was certainly a busy month! I created communications plans and marketing strategies, ran messaging workshops, edited websites, drafted press releases, held media training for a bootcamp full of social entrepreneurs and supported AEC’s launch into Tanzania – on which, more later.

But it wasn’t all work. In just 4 weeks I explored Kigali, met a four-month old gorilla in the Virunga mountains, kayaked on Lake Kivu, tested out my first shaky words of Kinyaruanda, got caught in some spectacular rainstorms, was laughed at relentlessly by market stall holders, flew to the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro in a really small plane, and leapt into a lake fully clothed (there was a reason for it!).

For now, while I immerse myself back into the fray of all important client work back at base, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone in the AEC family that made it such a great experience. I will be back!