Case Studies

Who I worked with
Speakers for Schools, a charity helping state schools inspire their students and broaden horizons through free talks from leading figures.

The challenge
The charity’s annual impact report needed a revamp and a new approach to more clearly demonstrate their story and the outcomes of their work. With a very small team, the Chief Executive, Ashley Hodges, needed extra support to produce high quality content.

What happened?
I worked with Ashley to identify a clear purpose and audiences for the report. From this I was able to recommend a content structure, including the key details that would inspire and motivate the audience of speakers, stakeholders and potential supporters. Once this structure was approved, I wrote content and liaised with the graphic designer, Ashley and other team members through the draft and proof stages.

The outcomes
Ashley and her trustee board were very pleased with the report. They felt that it helped build a narrative about the organisation, rather than just reporting outcomes. She had enjoyed the process of working with an external communicator for a fresh perspective and to help with managing the workload involved. As a result, she asked me to work on another project to improve the charity’s schools newsletter.

“Sarah was responsive to our needs throughout, thoughtful in her approach and always trying to fit what was needed, so it was a pleasure to work with her.”

Who I worked with
Marie Curie Care, a charity supporting individuals living with a terminal illness

The challenge
The charity knew that something wasn’t working with their internal communications and with exciting but potentially challenging times of change ahead, such as a major rebrand, they knew that something needed to be done. I was asked to carry out a full audit of communication across the charity and make recommendations for taking things forward.

What happened?
Starting with the question ‘how will improved internal comms make a difference to patients and their families?’ I interviewed staff and volunteers across the whole range of roles, services and locations that make up the charity. From shop managers to corporate fundraisers, from specialist nurses to occupational therapists and hospice managers, from the Chief Exec to the PR team, everyone had a view on what worked, what didn’t and what should happen next.

Over several months I gathered views and input, then analysed everything I had been entrusted with to identify the key themes that came through again and again.

The outcomes
My resulting paper providing the topics, evidence and recommendations for how to make things better was agreed as the way forward by the Executive Board.

“Sarah conducted a thorough cultural audit of the charity and helped Marie Curie develop a case for investment in Internal Communications. She also helped me create a space within which to develop this aspect of the Comms strategy.”

Who I worked with
The University of Southampton

The challenge
The Internal Comms team didn’t have enough resource to promote a new programme of inter-disciplinary modules, called the Curriculum Innovation Programme. To increase understanding and take up among staff and students, the programme team needed a communication specialist for strategy, planning and delivery.

What happened?
Using my mantra of urging the team to look at what they were trying to achieve before we decided how to achieve it, I put together a plan and delivered it.

Instead of briefing the academics to write long, formal pieces describing their work, I decided to use video to get their passion for their modules across. It made a huge difference. I developed a website to act as a trusted information source, with clear sections for staff and students, as well as targeted communications to assist the School admin teams.

The outcome
The modules were very successful in terms of getting the numbers signing up and more academics involved. The programme team won a Vice-Chancellor Award. I came in for two months and stayed for three and a half years.

“Sarah grasps the rationale for her projects quickly and understands the impact that they will have on individuals and teams. She took the time to understand the culture of the sector and institution, and this allowed her to adapt her communications, even reaching some academics who enjoy being elusive to internal comms!”