Public affairs firm with strong public sector and CSR capabilities
Gullers Group was founded in 1989 by seven former executives from the public affairs practice at BNL, at the time one of the leading public relations consultancies in the Nordic region, and from its early days specialized in two areas: helping private companies communicate with government, and helping public sector organizations communicate with Swedish opinion leaders and the public—a profile that made it unique among Swedish PR companies at the time. It has since expanded to offer broader strategic communications counsel and positioning (about 40 percent of the business), public affairs (about 15 percent), media relations, internal communications services, crisis management and advice on corporate social responsibility, but continues to draw about 50 percent of its clients from the public sector.
Just as unusual was the company’s culture. Founder Mats Gullers and his colleagues wanted to create an atmosphere of transparency and partnership, and to that end set up a system under which every employee of the firm—from senior consultants to receptionists—has shares. In 2004, it also launched an ambitious training programme, drawing on experts from the Stockholm School of Economics in areas ranging from organizational theory to neurophysiology. Not surprisingly, staff retention is high—five of the seven founding partners are still there, and the average tenure is five years—and the firm’s consultants have an average of 16 years experience in the communications business.
Annual fee billings in 2004 were up about 10 percent to around SEK 30 million (approximately €3 million) and Gullers has a staff of over 30, ranking among the top 10 PR firms in the Swedish market. Growth was aided by two acquisitions: Con Brio, a three-person boutique with a strength in crisis management; and Tomorrow Media, a small firm led by former journalist and environmental consultant Claes Sjoberg, who is one of Sweden’s foremost authorities on corporate social responsibility (he helped produce the first environmental report for SAS and the first CSR report for IKEA) and is building a Scandinavian CSR practice for Gullers.
New business wins last year included the National Board of Housing Building & Planning; the Swedish Business Development Agency; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; the Stockholm County Council, the City of Stockholm Economic Development Agency, fibre optics company Stokab, the Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank), and the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems. Additions to the company’s counselling team included Jonas Lindgren, former Brussels correspondent for the TT news agency and Sara Blücher, previously communications manager at ISS.
Gullers is the Swedish affiliate of Porter Novelli International and partners with independent firms in Denmark and Finland (as well as the Porter office in Norway) on pan-Nordic work.