The third quarter is coming to an end for many companies. Budgets for 2018 are being finalized, IR strategies are being updated, final 2017 marketing plans are moving forward – and it’s also time to start thinking about creating your annual report.
Managing the annual report process is tough, particularly in an environment where you are looking to trim costs and compete for attention in a crowded communications space. Done well, your annual report is one of the most powerful tools in your communications arsenal, building your brand, engaging employees and reinforcing your investment proposition.
As the NATIONAL Equicom team gears up for year end, here are six ideas we give to clients seeking an engaging, cost-effective, and eye-catching annual report:
Start with a plan and a budget
Treat your annual report like any other mandate: start with a plan. Take a few hours to prepare a calendar with roles and responsibilities, and a plan to track costs (including internal time). During the drafting process, coordinating versions during the editing phase can save you a lot of time and money. You can also limit your back-and-forth by using use approved content across different documents.
Tell your story using simple, engaging terms
Interview key members of your executive team to HEAR how they tell the story. We write differently than we speak. A five minute conversation with your CEO can help focus a complex story, and ensures that you are writing about what your audience cares about.
Build different segments for different audiences
Books have chapters – why not annual reports? Write sections of your annual report with an objective and a distinct audience in mind. Think about what different stakeholder groups care about and tailor a section for them. For example, specific pages devoted to investors will highlight your investment thesis can be used as a handout later on.
Make it visually interesting
Research shows that content reinforced by pictures and captions will draw more readers. Visuals should support the message you are trying to share. Ensure your key messages are positioned up front in a scannable format for busy readers. Supporting visuals like graphs, photos and infographics will reinforce your message and make information memorable.
Write and design for shelf life and exposure
Create your report so that you can repurpose content on your website, in your investor slide deck, and on your social media platforms. Social media posts with a short summary from your report, shared on with links and visuals can significantly increase readership.
Celebrate the end result
Even with the right team, creating an annual report can be a stressful process. Most people hide during annual report season because the report is seen as being a thankless project. So inject some fun and recognition into the process so that people actually see the value in participating.
Across our network, NATIONAL has dozens of people with experience writing, designing and editing annual reports. The call, the ideas and the consultation are free. We’d love to help you worry less, get more sleep and even have some fun. For more information contact one of our investor relations experts.
——— Written by David Mann, former Vice-President, NATIONAL Public Relations