The first wave of expansion in the Swedish public relations business came in the early 90s, when veterans of the massive campaign to persuade voters to support Sweden’s entry into the European Union decided to try their hands in the private sector. So it’s no surprise that another new generation of Swedish PR firms has emerged since the slightly less successful 2003 campaign in support of the Euro. Among the best of them is Diplomat PR, which has grown quickly and after just six years in business has a staff of 30, fee income of around ?3 million, and is among the most successful public affairs firms in the Nordic region—and beyond, following the opening in 2009 of a new Brussels office.
Diplomat is particularly expert when it comes to helping clients understand the values, attitudes and politics of Sweden’s opinion leaders. Many multinational companies struggle to deal with a country where labour leaders are also community leaders, where the media is predominantly leftist, and where politicians often regard big business with suspicion. Indeed, even many Swedish companies have been reluctant to engage opinion leaders because of their perceived hostility.
The firm’s principals are all veterans of Sweden’s largest and best-respected PR firms: Gunnar Fröroth worked at Kreab; Anders Oremark at JKL; and Björn Nyblom at Audumbla/GoGroup. Together, they have close to 40 years of experience in the public affairs field, and at Diplomat they have surrounded themselves with a team of seasoned consultants—they were joined in October 2008 by a new managing partner, Anna-Karin Hedlund—with expertise in corporate communications and media relations, increasingly developing from a public affairs specialist into a full-service strategic communications firm, adding capabilities in financial communications, for example.
The past 12 months have seen a number of significant developments. The Brussels office has been further strengthened by the acquisition of Stenström Consulting and the appointment of 12-year EU veteran Kajsa Stenström as partner and managing director. The office also has another new partner, Christian Ardhe, who joined from the Confederations of Swedish Enterprise. Back in Stockholm, meanwhile, the firm launched a new subsidiary, YouMe Agency, focused on social media and marketing PR, and appointed Lars Leijonborg—a leader for the liberal party Folkpartiet for 10 years—as a senior advisor. Another addition is financial communications expert Mats Langensjö, whose experience includes positions with Goldman Sachs, Aon and Pioneer Investments.
While the firm keeps its client list confidential, it is known to work with SKB, the Swedish nuclear fuel and waste management company tasked with managing Swedish nuclear and radioactive waste in a safe way, as well as with Novartis, Pfizer, Carlyle Group and Tele2.
 “I’m very satisfied with our cooperation with Diplomat Communications,” says Klas Balkow, CEO for Swedish retailer Clas Ohlson. “They have front-edge competence and are very professional. They are always proactive and see opportunities. For me it’s very important with a trusted advisor who I can discuss our challenges with and ask for advice. Diplomat is very personal and always makes sure that one of the partners has the ultimate responsibility for the client. I very much appreciate the contact I have with one of the founders of the firm. That means a lot to me.”