Adding a touch of spice to annual reports

You may recall that a good few blogs back, we touched on the great work a UK-based organisation, Eden Project, has done in consistently producing stimulating, refreshing and inviting annual reports.

And with annual report preparation season in Australia less than six months away it’s timely for listed companies, government organisations and not-for-profits to turn their thoughts to the 2016/17 annual report. So I thought I’d stress there are annual reports – and then there are annual reports!

Sadly most tend to follow a rather bland model that does little more than tick all the statutory compliance boxes.

Even more depressing is that organisations often spend a lot of time, effort and money in creating the annual report without fully realising its enormous potential and, in the process, they miss a trick.

Given their human and financial effort, why wouldn’t they wish to make sure the annual report returns something to their organisations?

So why wouldn’t they give the annual report a marketing feel too, positioning it as both a compliance document and a marketing brochure that effectively communicates not only financial results but also achievements and plans written in a compelling way for stakeholders?

After all, the published annual report is an extension of your organisation and those who read it will invariably draw conclusions about you.

And if you look at recent winners of the prestigious Australasian Reporting Awards, you’ll find a common thread running through the winning entries – they all effectively communicate pertinent financial and corporate information and present it in an appealing and engaging fashion, across all of content, copywriting and design.

Of course, there is a place – and a very important place – for the cold statutory stuff like audited financial statements, directors’ attendance at meetings and accounting standards references, but beyond that there are ways the traditional report content can be presented and inclusions made that improve the marketing impact of the annual report.

You could list your triumphs and accomplishments, share case studies that depict you in an exceptional light and make a point of thanking all those who’ve contributed to your success over the year.

These simple additions – conveyed in polished copy and presented in a vibrant and bold design, will not only make for interesting reading but will go a long way towards helping to portray the board, the executive team and the organisation itself as more human, more engaging, more approachable – and more worthy of people’s ongoing support, respect and trust.

As I did back when first sharing the Eden Project annual report with you, I repeat my challenge to the Australian corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors.

Yes, there’s a need to cover off on the formal ‘boring bits’ but you don’t have to present them in a boring manner. Why not get creative with the design, liven up the copy, use great photography and grasp the enormous opportunity?

You know I never use this blog to spruik others services but ……… here’s a first…

If you need help to make it happen, may I suggest you have a chat with someone like Paul Robinson of Word Café, who I’ve worked with for a number of years and have no hesitation in highly recommending.

Chances are it will pay handsomely.

Until next time,


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