Why is it so crucial for a company to release an Annual Report, and execute it properly? These detailed, yearly reports can be somewhat intimidating because they must contain lots of important data. They include your company‘s activities, performance, financial conditions, and achievements from the preceding year – while setting future objectives and goals. Basically, it is a lot of information to sum up and turn into a beautiful document that your audience can understand. But we know you can do it and produce something you and your team are truly proud of.
Publicly traded companies require Annual Reports to give shareholders a financial and operational overview – but you can use it to celebrate the victories, too. It also provides an overview to potential investors and offers a formalized source of communication to the public.
Suppose you are a small business owner or run a non-profit organization. In that case, you are not legally required to produce an Annual Report – but having one can prove to be an invaluable marketing tool. Customers, government institutions, suppliers, and even your employees will find value in it. You want them to read your report and get excited, possibly even bring a smile to their face as they learn something new about you. It is beneficial, no matter the size of your company, because it offers transparency, building trust and appreciation. So let us help you inspire your team and create an amazing story to share with your valued audience and promote your company.
Always Plan Ahead
It is no secret that we love strategizing at William Joseph, and strategic planning does not stop with reports. If you don‘t take the time to plan, your report can come off scattered, irrelevant, or simply too overwhelming for your audience to understand.
Start by identifying the story you want to tell. This is an excellent opportunity to not only share findings from the previous year but also remind your audience of your core values, mission, and driving forces that make up your company. This, in turn, provides a wholesome view of where your company is at now and forecasts your goals. Next, ensure you have all the data you need – which likely means coordinating with multiple departments. Perhaps you are breaking down your finances in a chart. You can save time by making sure the chart template is available to your analytics team ahead of time to be filled in. Your team will appreciate your effort to plan and when the deadline comes along, so will you.
Egg Farmers of Alberta Annual Report.
Flex Your Creative Muscles
Since these reports are so comprehensive, there is a lot of information for you to translate into a digestible format. The best way to do this is to be creative and tell a story, so it is easy for the audience to understand and stay engaged. Break your story into major themes or chapters. Common Annual Report themes are current market performance, industry context, financial performance, whether you met your strategic objectives, etc. Once you identify these major themes, rewrite the information to tell a story that better speaks to investors and your industry, employees, and even your competitors.
Here’s one way to look at it: put yourself in your stakeholders‘ shoes and see if your report makes sense. Would a potential investor find this understandable or exciting? Is the layout of the information compelling, and does it encourage people to read more? Is the report too long, or should you go back in and summarize critical data? Keeping questions like these in mind while thinking of creative ways to share your content will help your strategy. The information selected, order of content, tone, and specific vocabulary choices are vital considerations when crafting this report.
Annual Reports should always be visual and bring a sense of excitement to the audience when they see it. Especially in the financial area of the report where data is heavy, play around with different charts, tables, headlines, fonts, and textures to make it more engaging. Ensure you maintain brand consistency while using these elements and experimenting with colour, imagery, and graphics. Whether you are a small company that does your own design or a large company with a design team, sticking to brand standards will resonate more with your audience – and will strengthen the narrative you’ve been telling over the past year.
Not sure how to tell if your design is consistent? Think this way: readers should recognize that the report is from your company, without even seeing the logo or company name. Consider consistent font, colours, and imagery that your audience has come to know from your website and other branding efforts and use this to inspire your design.
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Annual Report.
Include a Message from Leadership
Not only do investors appreciate hearing a personal message from your CEO, but the public will, too. This will set a positive tone for the story you are about to tell and humanize your brand with a trusted and credible source. Annual Reports should go beyond the initial foundation of financial and operational findings and offer a personal angle. Audiences want to know who is behind the brand, what motivates them, what their goals are, and feel that sense of community with your company. After all, investors and customers make your business possible, and they want transparency. Include a warm, welcoming photo of your leader to compliment the friendly message.
Consider Sharing Online
Annual Reports – often robust documents – are traditionally printed. Current trends are inspiring even the most traditional of companies to think a little bit differently – like going digital. Sounds interesting, but why should your company consider this? It will save you time, money, distribution costs, and help the environment, too!
Moving online, such as a PDF format, allows you to make the report more interactive by adding links within the document which can also help improve your website‘s ranking on Google if optimized correctly. You can also track its performance, which is more challenging to do with printed materials.
And why not go beyond a PDF and make your report into a digital flipbook? They are even more interactive than a standard PDF, allowing people to flip the pages at their own pace and have a more tangible experience. These work great on both desktop and mobile devices, making your report more accessible for various audiences. Finally, there is the sustainability aspect. Choosing to publish your report online minimizes the environmental impact compared to traditional printing methods.
Remember that your report is your chance to shine and share your accomplishments. It is a way to have fun with your team and get creative, while reflecting on key data and information. Telling a story about your findings will humanize your brand, build trust, and overall be a memorable experience. Ensuring the report is attractive, appealing, and easy to understand will reach more audiences and have greater influence. And if you need help or advice, we are here for you. Annual Reports get us excited – and we want to you to feel that enthusiasm, too!