Tag Archives: corporate communications

Better business for all

On April 20, Gong Communications founder, Narda Shirley joined other signatories to the Better Business Act at the House of Commons to lobby MPs for a change in the law. If passed, the Better Business Act would amend section 172 of the Companies Act so that businesses are legally obliged to consider all stakeholders. As it stands, company directors are accountable to shareholders with profit maximisation as their primary fiduciary duty.

 

signatories

 

This change would mean companies are no longer able to pursue profit at the expense of workers, communities or the environment. It could help transform the way we do business and free decision-makers to act in favour of balancing in long-term interests, rather than chasing short-term financial gain.

Better Business Day kicked off with a panel discussion featuring CEOs from graze.com, Pukka Herbs and Ella’s Kitchen, moderated by Financial Times journalist Joy Lo Dico. Innocent Drinks CEO Douglas Lamont, co-chair of the Better Business Act Campaign, told the audience: “We must remove that hiding place for directors that all they have to do is maximise profit in today’s world. Companies must now balance the interests of people, profit and planet.”

Mary Portas, the campaign’s other co-Chair added her remarks and shared anecdotes about her early career as a young female company director at the luxury retailer, Harvey Nichols. She reflected on the role she and other company Directors played, believing it was their responsibility in the ‘80’s ‘greed is good’ culture to encourage consumer consumption of brands without thinking about the effect on the environment or the workers in global supply chains.

The campaign has already gained over 1,000 supporters, including The Body Shop, Oddbox and Virgin StartUp. It was initiated by B Lab UK, which serves the growing community of UK-based companies which are certified B Corporations.

Gong founder Narda Shirley says. “We know from the work we do with our clients that lots of businesses are already acting in a way that takes care of their employees, communities and the environment. But the law has not kept up with this change in business culture – that is what we’re trying to address with this act.”

One of the key actions of the campaign is to get signatories to write to their MP. There is a template letter on the Better Business Act web site that cites a survey of members of the Institutes of Directors as finding a majority think the current Companies Act focuses too much on shareholders and not enough on wider stakeholders.

It also references Research by the Better Business Act which shows that companies run in line with the principles of the Act can expect faster growth in turnover and headcount; greater levels of employee retention and diversity, and higher levels of innovation.

The same research found that 76 per cent of people in the UK want businesses to be legally responsible for their impact. They think that business has a responsibility to protect the environment and the majority favour brands that do good in the world.

At Gong, we urge businesses to add their voice in calling on the government to change section 172 of the Companies Act to make this official. Let’s ensure that all businesses are held to account and are legally required to make decisions that benefit workers, communities and the environment, while delivering profit.

To join the campaign, click here.

Gong Communications Impact Report 2021

As a B Corp, we are required to report on our impact.

We are pleased to share our 2021 Impact Report, both in terms of the work we do and the clients we are proud to work for and also to reflect on our own activity.

It might not be the punchiest of reads, but it reflects the core pillars of the B Corp movement, reporting on our efforts to contribute to society, how we play our part in the wider community, the environment and how we use resources, our suppliers and who we choose to work with, and our most precious commodity, our people, and how we operate as a business.  We hope you enjoy reading what we’ve been up to as much as we’ve enjoyed doing everything in this report.

Click on the image above to download Gong Communications’ B Corp Impact Report 2021.

If you’d like to get in touch and find out more about our work, email us at info@gongcommunications.com

Unlocking the wildlife economy

Africa is taking the lead when it comes to realising the potential the wildlife economy has to offer. Home to abundant wildlife and diverse habitats, it is perhaps not surprising that the journey to unlocking and diversifying the wildlife economy begins on this continent.  


 

Investing in natural infrastructure is a win-win. It means habitats can be restored, species saved and jobs created. It benefits people, nature and business alike, but governments and policy makers often fail to see nature as a key strategic asset. Instead, conserving wildlife is frequently viewed as a direct threat to economic development.   

Helping to turn this view around is the School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) at the African Leadership University in Rwanda. Its Director of Research Sue Snyman says the economic value of wildlife in Africa is still not recognised. To remedy this, SOWC has published a report on the State of the Wildlife Economy in Africa to show governments in concrete terms just how much the continent’s natural capital contributes to the economy.  

The report focuses on the ‘Big Five’ activities of the wildlife economy: ecotourism, carbon markets, forest products, hunting and fishing, and game ranching. Snyman hopes the research will encourage governments to invest more in nature.  

 

HOW DO YOU PUT A PRICE ON AFRICA’S WILDLIFE?

Traditionally, the wildlife economy has centred on ecotourism. In Africa alone, the wildlife safari industry is estimated to bring in between US$12.4 billion and US$42.9 billion in revenue. In 1981, our client African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) helped found one of the most famous ecotourism projects on the continent – the Mountain Gorilla Project in Rwanda. Thanks to its work, the mountain gorilla population has grown from only a few hundred at its lowest point to over 1,000 today – giving them the dubious honour of being the only great ape species whose population is increasing.  

The project has been such a success that it is now facing another problem: a lack of space. The gorillas are so numerous that they are frequently roaming outside the park boundary, putting them in direct conflict with people. The Rwandan Government is planning to expand the park by 37.4 square kilometres, increase tourists’ viewing opportunities and invest more than $70 million in social housing and infrastructure for Rwandans living around the park. This will provide jobs for more than 7,500 people in tourism, construction, agriculture and service sectors.  

 

WHO BENEFITS?

 This is the wildlife economy operating at its best. A system where everyone and everything benefits – wildlife, habitats and people alike. But the Covid-19 pandemic threw this, and many other ecotourism projects across the world, into chaos. When the tourism industry shut down, it became very clear that the wildlife economy needs to diversify if it is going to survive.   

One way to do this is to find other uses for species. Developing a sustainable wild meat sector through game farming (think ostrich, crocodile, antelope) can bring benefits to local communities, like food security, and even to the environment if it is done in the right way. So can game ranching – if management practices are up to scratch. The South African government is working with experts to explore the potential for a certification scheme within the ranching sector.  

Hunting remains a highly emotive topic. Some countries, like Kenya, have banned it altogether. Others, like Zimbabwe, focus on foreign hunters rather than locals, and countries such as the UK have plans to ban the import of hunting trophies from Africa. Francis Vorhies, Director of the African Wildlife Economy Institute (AWEI) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, believes that 2022 needs to be the year we start a serious conversation about hunting. To this end, AWEI will be researching the role wild harvesting – including hunting – can play in conservation and economic development.  

It can be easy to forget that the wildlife economy is about more than just animals. Traditionally, definitions exclude plants but according to Gus le Breton, CEO of African Plant Hunter, that is wrong. Plants provide both the habitat and food for wild animals and are integral to the wildlife economy, he argues. In his vision, Africa is the new frontier for natural ingredient research. 

 

WHAT IS THE GLOBAL IMPACT?

The FairWild Foundation is trying to ensure that plant species, such as the baobab, rooibos, myrrh and frankincense, are harvested and traded responsibly. It has already certified 25 species from 14 countries. Newly appointed CEO Deborah Vorhies says she hopes the scheme will grow the market for wild-harvested plants and at the same time conserve landscapes and enhance local livelihoods.   

Plants and trees also form a central plank to another facet of the wildlife economy – carbon markets. Last year Gabon became the first African country to receive payment for reducing carbon emissions by protecting its rainforest, which covers 90 per cent of its territory and captures more carbon than the country emits. So far Gabon has received $17 million, the first tranche of $150 million from the UN-backed Central African Forest Initiative, by showing it has reduced deforestation.   

Private sector interest in natural climate solutions has also grown significantly. French multinational Danone, for example, has invested €3 million in a project to restore a mangrove forest in Senegal, which is expected to capture and store around 600,000 tons of CO2.  

Relationships between investors – be they from the private sector, governments or UN agencies – and those on the ground delivering conservation need to be nurtured if the wildlife economy is to blossom. In March, we helped AWF do just this at an event for more than 50 guests from the sustainability, finance and investment sectors and expert speakers from AWF Rwanda, Wilderness Safaris and FSD Africa, at the Royal Geographical Society in London.  

 

If you are a charity or startup business seeking investment and require PR support, please contact our expert communications team direct at info@gongcommunications.com and we’ll be in touch.

B Corp Month 2022 Part 3: A celebration of 10 international companies #BehindTheB 

PART 3: HOW CAN OTHERS B THE CHANGE?

In the finale of our 3-part series zooming in to focus on 10 inspiring international B Corps, we’re heading out East Asia to spotlight 3 more certified organisations. Gong’s B Corp Committee member and Senior Account Executive, Ryan Witton, acts as your guide to the final fab three.

If you missed Part 1: Where it all started, click here for the full blog.

To catch up on Part 2: B Corps all over the world, click here.

TREE PLANET

Tree Planet began life as a simple tree planting game on smartphones in South Korea and led to the planting of over 1 million trees in areas suffering from desertification like China and Mongolia. Now environmentally conscious individuals can plant trees by ‘adopting’ a pet tree that will sit in one of Tree Planet’s many themed forests. 

Tree Planet aims to plant 100 million trees worldwide by 2050, and more recently began its ‘Make Your Farm’ project to introduce environmentally friendly and sustainable coffee production methods to independent farmers. 

 

MYCOTECH

In West Java, Indonesia, Mycotech binds agricultural waste with mushroom mycelia to literally grow 100% natural building and textile materials. These eco-tech building materials offer effective heat insulation while its leather-like durable fabrics are animal-free and used in a variety of fashion apparel like shoes, wallets and bags. 

Mycotech has a strong circular economy model, re-using, recycling and composting its side streams and waste products, with very little entering landfill at the end of the process. The company-wide mantra is, “Change is a choice – and we choose to take the steps forward towards sustainability.” We’re with you Mycotech! 

 

ETHIQUE

And last but by no means least, we head down to NZ to meet a cosmetics brand based out of Christchurch, with a core guiding principle: healthy products, made with sustainable, naturally derived ingredients. Ethique eschews plastic bottles and harsh chemicals and instead produces super dense beauty product bars. These types of solid cosmetics have a long shelf life and can be used endlessly due to a high concentration of ingredients. Ethique advises consumers that their solid bars last up to 5 times as longer than their liquid alternatives with the added bonus being chemical and preservative free – great for all budgets, skin types and local water quality. 

 

That’s a wrap! We hope you’ve enjoyed following us on this virtual trek to meet just 10 of the amazing7 4,700+ B Corps across the globe. If your organisation is on a mission to make positive change for people and planet, access B Lab’s free eLearning toolkit at https://gongcommunications.com/gong-tapped-for-danone-and-b-lab-employee-engagement-brief/ 

B Lab is the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.

DPO Group

COMMUNICATIONS SUPPORT FOR AFRICAN DIGITAL PAYMENTS COMPANY

DPO Group has developed the technology to allow businesses across Africa to process payments, on and offline. Headquartered in Kenya, with presence in 19​ African countries, DPO works with businesses of all sizes, supporting the growth of small local businesses, as well as working with large corporations, such as Uber, Booking.com and DHL. ​

Gong was tasked with supporting DPO in developing its corporate profile and raising awareness of its suite of products to businesses locally, regionally and internationally, with coverage secured in Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, the UK, the US, China and France, amongst others. ​

In August 2020, Gong supported DPO Group in the announcement of its planned acquisition by Network International, in what is a landmark deal for the African payments landscape and one of the largest exits in Africa’s tech sector. ​

With a modest investment we are delivering outsized results, securing 50 pieces of coverage of DPO’s acquisition alone, including in top tier international titles such as Forbes and Quartz. The estimated reach of this single announcement was over 1.5bn readers.

DoctorLink

COMMUNICATIONS SUPPORT FOR LAUNCH OF DIGITAL HEALTH COMPANY

Gong was retained to develop a communications strategy to launch digital triage provider DoctorLink, encouraging uptake by GP surgeries, changing public perception and behaviour around booking GP appointments, and building a corporate brand to support future products and long-term business goals.

We began by conducting extensive stakeholder and market research, which informed a brand strategy workshop, during which we analysed corporate brand attributes and differentiators and defined the company vision, mission, values and core market positioning.

We took a multi-channel approach to achieve DoctorLink’s core communications goals, including media relations, social media, industry event debates, thought leadership whitepaper research, case studies, working with medical professional champions and influencers, video, and design collateral including infographics.

The product launch was a huge success, with extensive coverage of the white paper research in industry publications, as well as expert opinions published in the national papers. The research was turned into a TED-style talk and used as the basis for speaking engagements at key NHS conferences.  Following the launch, we continued to build DoctorLink’s B2B profile alongside a consumer awareness of the product through ongoing media and marketing activity.

In December 2020, DoctorLink was acquired by digital health company HealthHero, having seen a 250 per cent increase in its active user base and 900 per cent growth in video consultations over the nine months prior to acquisition. During this timeframe, the number of GP clinics using the DoctorLink platform had tripled and it reported 10 times revenue growth in 2020, making it one of the largest telehealth companies in Europe.

City Am coverage for DoctorLink

African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM)

CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS FOR AFRICAN PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTMENT MANAGER

African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), one of Africa’s leading private equity investment managers dedicated to African infrastructure, has been a retained client of Gong’s since 2016.

Our corporate comms brief with AIIM focuses on talking about its extensive infrastructure experience in targeted press, concentrating on positioning AIIM as one of the leading renewable energy investors on the continent.

Activities also included announcing deal news, drafting LinkedIn content and carefully targeted op-ed writing on issues such as: the outlook for renewable energy in Africa, reform priorities in Nigeria’s power sector, the role of the private sector in plugging the infrastructure spending gap, and the importance of renewables in a greener recovery post-Covid.

Coverage has been achieved in international titles such as the Financial Times and Bloomberg, energy trade publications such as Energy Voice, Renewable Energy Magazine and Power magazine, as well as several target investment publications. Potential readership of Gong’s media coverage reaches an average of 55 million people each month.

Our work with AIIM resulted in Gong winning the global corporate communications brief for AIIM’s holding company, Old Mutual Alternative Investments.

Coverage for AIIM private equity

Visionable

ACCELERATING GROWTH WITH MEDIA RELATIONS

UK healthcare technology company Visionable retained Gong to build the company’s profile in business media, initially in the UK and the US. The company is on an accelerated growth path due to the impact of coronavirus and the need for socially distanced healthcare provision. 

To ensure targeted visibility amongst priority audiences we developed a comms strategy and key messages for the company by working with the joint co-founders and directors.

This involved reviewing competitor messaging to guarantee that Visionable’s messaging was fresh and differentiated. We proactively engaged target international business and trade media via press releases, wrote op-eds and conducted background briefing calls.

Gong has successfully increased Visionable’s coverage within business media titles including Forbes and Health Business. In its first six months on retainer, Gong reached over 1.3 billion estimated readers through its proactive media outreach and briefing sessions with targeted journalists, including the Financial Times and TechCrunch.