But Tim Allan is nothing if not persistent and over the last few months, I have found myself working with Portland more and more, advising clients and helping develop their bright young staff.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the chance again to help build a talented team, particularly as Portland includes a good number of friends from my days in the Labour Party and at No 10. These are people I know to be of the highest calibre and of strong values and commitment to professional standards.
It is why, when Tim recently asked whether I might like to formalise my role at Portland, I finally said yes.
Tim wants me to continue helping develop Portland’s staff. But it will also give me the chance to play a bigger role in advising Portland’s clients and helping devise effective strategic communication plans.
I have been struck over the years by how few companies and big organisations seem to have a properly thought-through strategy to manage and promote their reputations and how even successful businesses can’t differentiate between the strategic and tactical. I have also noticed how often their different strands of their communications – whether through the media, digital, public affairs or their own internal comms – don’t work together well.
So I hope, with my colleagues, I can use my experience to help Portland clients, who include many of the world’s leading brands and organisations, to get this right. It’s certainly never been more important that they do.
A great deal of nonsense is talked about spin. It is not just legitimate for businesses to consider strategic communications but essential. It can often be the difference between success and failure.
It is also something where we have developed real expertise in this country. We need to make the most of these skills because they are important not just for individual companies but the success of our whole economy.
I also know I will enjoy working with the Portland team which includes people drawn from a wide range of backgrounds.
I’m not sure when I was in No 10 that I ever thought I would be working alongside Michael Portillo but then I think even Michael will admit he’s changed his outlook more than I have…..
It does not mean that I will be giving up my other work which includes writing, public speaking, coaching, broadcasting or my unpaid political advice and charitable fund-raising and awareness campaigns. But I will be devoting a considerable chunk of each week to Portland.
And, it rather surprises me to say, that I am really looking forward to another new challenge and working with a great team of people…..