Sincliar Consultants

The Dartington Hall Trust is a pioneering charity and its work brings together the disciplines of sustainability, social justice and the arts.

Despite its international reputation for excellence, some of the Trust’s activities were misunderstood by local community and some of its key target audiences and the organisation was in need of improved brand clarity.

Sinclair Consultants was appointed by the Trust’s CEO to help address these issues and position the Trust as a positive organisation, with a track record of success and exciting plans for the future.

In order to achieve this, Sinclair Consultants worked closely with the senior management team of The Dartington Hall Trust to establish a set of communications objectives. It then devised a varied programme of communications activities to deliver them.

Background

The ‘Dartington experiment’ was established in the 1920s by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst. They encouraged and funded a host of commercial and artistic endeavours for over sixty years, some of which became very well known, e.g. Dartington International Summer School. The Trust was established to continue the Elmhirsts’ pioneering work.

Fast forward to 2005 and the Trust had become static with revenues at a level such that it was not able to invest in new enterprises. It was against this background that a new CEO was appointed to put the Trust back on a sound financial footing and enable it to encourage new, ground-breaking activities to be set up.

Objective

The new CEO formed a clear set of corporate objectives as part of his transformation plan and these were underpinned by a series of targets to be achieved at an operational level.

Getting the communications right formed a key part of ensuring the success of the CEO’s transformation plan and Sinclair Consultants worked closely with the CEO and his senior team for over two years to deliver the change programme in its critical early stages.

Solution

Sinclair Consultants’ initial priority was to improve the perception of the Trust amongst the local community. Through a series one-to-one briefings with the CEO, editors of all key local and regional media were invited in to familiarise themselves with Dartington, its range of activities and its exciting plans for new initiatives on the estate.

Positive editorial coverage began to flow from these briefings and specific, operational level projects were then identified and covered as feature articles in local, regional and national media, including radio and TV.

In addition, we promoted a series of open community meetings to enable the Trust to engage with the community more positively by seeking input from local people.

Sinclair Consultants also devised the name for and took a lead role in setting up and handling all the communications for the inception of the Landscope Project, aiming to promote small-scale, innovative and financially-viable ventures related to sustainable land use on the estate.

This project is now up and running with 11 initiatives approved. It is helping to bring about economic and cultural regeneration in a rural environment, one of the original ideals set out by the Elmhirsts over 80 years ago.

For more information, please go to www.dartington.org.