Endings and beginnings

Stephen Byfield gets wistful as he explains why the PPS name is going as the company he set up 27 years ago is incorporated into communications consultancy Newgate Communications, where he remains a partner

It is a time of change mingled with continuity here at PPS.

It is 27 years since my erstwhile partner and I had a bright idea and set PPS up as the first company to offer communication skills in support of planning applications. Our idea was a simple one. If you wanted to improve your chances of securing planning permission you should talk to the decision makers sitting on the planning committees as well as the phalanx of professional officers advising them.

Not surprisingly the idea caught on and we ended up spawning a mini industry. You will be hard pushed these days to find a professional team on a major planning application that doesn’t include someone charged with consulting the local community, understanding the local politics and handling the media.

Over the years we have worked for all the large housebuilding firms and made our contribution to schemes great and small. On my route home I can pass seven buildings on which the firm advised ... and I do not live far away. I have advised on major strategic allocations that took years of careful negotiation, yet was once hired to move a bus stop in Kensington.

I am proud of PPS. Over 27 years PPS trained great people, did great work and helped create great places. PPS became renowned as the best in its field. Our alumni now populate nearly all the PR firms that specialise in this area.

The time has come
But now the time has come to lose the name. The business was bought a couple of years ago by Porta plc, a major PR agency that was proud to take us on and has fostered our talents since. Understandably, they want to bring the brand into line with their other assets and so from this month PPS has been re-named Newgate Communications. There is a new logo and a new website.

Our work continues. Our people across the country will continue to do their best for their clients and continue to give great advice. They will now be able to draw on the far greater resources of Newgate, pulling in national public affairs and communications skills, financial advice and digital communications in a way PPS standing alone could not. For our clients, it is a positive move. For our people, it is a positive move. I, though, can not help feeling the passing of the years in the passing of a name.

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