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Past decade: free, fake and furious conversations


During the past decade, we have seen the spread of social media and a new freedom to communicate, the rise of fake news and increasingly furious conversations held by frustrated individuals.

Right now, media business models are still in question, governance mechanisms and ethics are eroding, and people are on a constant journey of discovery — but also in despair over being lost in the landscape.

Can you remember the beginning of this millennium? We were subscribing to a stable set of print publications. We were watching TV together. Search results were non-commercial and a matter of using a computer. Do you remember AltaVista, Yahoo!, and Ask Jeeves?. And it was still seven years until Apple launched the first iPhone.

When we launched Leidar on October 18th 2010, we had the idea of creating an international boutique consultancy with a dedicated presence or partners in the world’s capitals of influence. We developed our own “Leadership Navigation” methodology. And we built the mechanisms to deliver seamlessly across offices and competencies, spanning strategy, visual, digital, and engagement services.

At the same time, we wanted to be a learning consultancy with a point of view, and we have invested a lot of time into providing insights and perspectives. So when we now celebrate our first ten years, what is more natural than looking back on what we put on the agenda during the first ten years?

Without blowing our own horn too much, we can safely say we took some clear and increasingly relevant points of view in our blogs and thought leadership reports.

2020: The year of Rethink and Restart

Before the pandemic changed everything, we launched our report at the SDG tent in Davos saying that human factors are increasingly important when it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our panel discussion, in connection with the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, underlined the need for a holistic and complete plan for sustainability. Leidar’s response has been to set up an Advocacy Lab, helping clients take that more holistic approach.

2019: Focus on purpose

As a contributor to the European Communication Summit, we engaged with more than 500 communications leaders. Inspired by “shared value”, “inclusive capitalism” and other sustainability-led concepts, these professionals now take responsibility for defining purpose and positioning businesses as corporate citizens. Ever since our launch, we have been obsessed with the importance of having a clear North Star and that new purpose is very much part of our North Star.

2018: Mind the gap 

Our Leadership Navigation Study showed that there is a big gap between how companies make promises and deliver on them when it comes to the SDGs. Our recommendation is to couple thought leadership with real, concrete solutions to the world´s challenges. 

2017: The arrival of fake news

In our first speech about fake news we said that fake news is not just a PR problem, it is a democratic problem, rocking the very foundation of our democratic processes. The reduced trust in media and leaders is undermining traditional communication strategies and also making issues and crisis communications increasingly complex.

2016: Slow SDG-uptake

One year after the launch of SDGs we examined what 162 companies, from various industries and sectors, were doing. The analysis suggested that the world´s major companies have been slow to respond to, and position themselves on, the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

2015: Essential diversity

“Diversity contributes positively to business and organisational performance,” agreed all the panellists at a Leidar event at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. Diversity always improves the reputation of a company. Importantly, it also brings multiple perspectives, which fosters innovation.

2014: Media revolution

During the entire decade, we have seen many titles fold and many journalists leaving traditional journalism for corporate content production or consulting. Major global media transforms itself, shifting from a focus on news to providing background and commentary, not to mention the race for new business models and sources of income.

2013: Crowd data innovation

The “track and trace” applications that we have seen in connection with COVID-19, are not new. “The magic of new technology can make the invisible visible,” said Paul Conneally in his TED Talk and we discussed how social media and crowd sourced data will revolutionise crisis management and communications.

2012: Public Private Partnerships

Collaboration marks a new area in advocacy, and a shift away from confrontation-only strategies, with increased focus on joint issues resolution and common progress. Today we see increasing collaboration between multi-nationals, International Governmental Organizations (IGOs), the donor community and NGOs, an approach that was originally initiated by the private sector.

2011: World’s first advocacy degree

During our first year we spent a lot of time preparing for a programme at the Graduate Institute in Geneva called Advocacy in International Affairs. We launched the programme in 2011 and ran at the Graduate Institute for eight years. We are proud to have helped define the advocacy landscape, and to have trained passionate advocates that today are making a real difference in their fields. 

Leidar milestones

And if you are interested in Leidar’s key milestones, here are some our key developments during the past decade:

2019: Lukasz M. Bochenek published the world´s first complete book on advocacy. We also strengthened the management team, with Andreas Keller joining Leidar in Dubai. 

2018: We strengthen our presence in London with improved digital and design expertise; we launched our new operation in Dubai; merged with a major film production team in Norway; and established a presence in Brussels.

2017: Ingrid Helsingen Warner appointed Managing Director in Norway. Ingrid was part of the team from the very early days and relocated to Norway in 2013. Today the Norwegian team integrates the full 360 degrees and is one of the up-and-coming consultancies in Norway. Leidar moved from Nyon to Geneva and Lukasz Bochenek was appointed Managing Director for Switzerland. Today he also oversees the UK and Brussels operation, making Leidar the leading international communication consultancy in Geneva.

2012: Two years after we launched Leidar, we added our own office in Norway and began delivering fully integrated services.

2010: On October 18 we launched Leidar with a core team of Ingrid Helsingen WarnerLukasz BochenekCharlie PryorLutz MeyerTrond Harstad and yours truly, all still key players on the team. 

The learning journey continues!

Rolf Olsen

CEO, based in Geneva

Rolf Olsen launched Leidar in 2010 and continues to lead the company as CEO.  He advises clients on strategy and narrative development; crisis management; and complex reputational issues on a global scale.

Should you have any queries contact us