It’s that time of year again: time to start thinking about your annual report.
You may be required to produce one of these to fulfil your reporting duties, but it’s far more than a regulatory box you need to begrudgingly tick. Your report offers you a unique chance to strengthen awareness of your brand and demonstrate your capabilities to your stakeholders – and to potential investors.
Are you making the most of it?
We’re a dab hand at putting together annual reports, and have done so for a diverse mix of industries and clients – so here are our top tips to producing a report that wows.
Beware of inconsistency
It’s highly unlikely that your report will be produced by a single person. Many authors contribute to different sections, many reviewers look over the draft, and there are many steps of approval before publication. It takes a talented editor to bring all of this copy together – copy written in different styles, tones, and with different objectives and preferences in mind – to create a smooth, consistent product.
Make it accessible
You know your industry jargon and buzzwords – but does everyone else? Take a step back and ensure you’re not overusing acronyms, jargon, or overly technical language. This kind of impenetrable content can often also stilt the flow of your copy and make it difficult to read, so ensuring that you write in an accessible and engaging way is key.
Use your imagination
While your copy is vital, so is the aesthetic of your report. You want to use every tool at your disposal to make your report engaging and eye-catching, and to use its design and layout to further your company’s story. Producing a beautiful, enticing product will help the key content of your report hit home, and will maintain a strong positive brand association amongst your stakeholders.
Choose precision over ambiguity
Bear in mind the purpose of your report: to inform people of your company’s current position, performance, and goals for the year ahead. Beware of writing in an overly passive or wishy-washy voice: for example, rather than stating that you’d like to “strengthen your brand in the market”, put figures and timelines and specifics on this. People quickly grow weary of reading something that is full of words, but tells them very little.
Keep your personality
An annual report is a Serious Business Document – but it needn’t be dry. As long as you’re communicating all of your key points, why not inject some personality? Copy that is engaging and interesting is far easier to read, making your report more enjoyable for your audience, and can actually convey information more effectively than detached or lofty prose. Additionally, the one part of your report that’s most likely to be read is the CEO’s letter – so if you lose audience interest immediately with dry, formulaic copy, you’ll struggle to get it back.
If this seems daunting, don’t worry: we’re here to help. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you put together an effective, engaging – and, crucially – successful report this year.