Have you recently considered whether your Annual Report was meeting its objectives? “Objectives you cry – we're lucky if we manage to get something out to our shareholders on time”.
Do you breathe a sigh of relief when the whole process appears over – at least for another twelve months, grateful no obvious errors crept into the process at the last minute?
The process is over … or is it? Having spent time and money aren’t you going to review the success of your efforts? In fact, maybe the whole process is just starting.
Did you embark on the Annual Report process with simple compliance in mind or did you intend to use it as a key communication tool. Many companies strive to go beyond minimum reporting requirements in an attempt to reach out to existing and potential investors as well as addressing the needs of other crucial stakeholders.
Reaping the full benefits of the time, effort and budget committed to the process, ensuring the Annual Report is effectively communicating key messages to the market and your intended audiences can be a challenge. Often left to the last minute, little time is made available to review the output. How confident are you that you have understood the needs of your audience, remembered why you are communicating with them in the first place and finally assessed whether the Annual Report achieved its intended goals?
Reviewing the success of your Annual Report should be a key part of your production timetable. The following three questions should help reinforce the effectiveness of your Annual Report:
Having decided for whom it is that the Annual Report is being developed, think about key elements that will give your Annual Report that extra appeal:
By far the easiest way to define the objectives of the Annual Report is to consider what you want your readers to do as a result of picking up a copy of your Annual Report:
It may sound simple but take time to ask. It’s a cost effective approach, the feedback enables the Annual Report process to evolve and ultimately it helps build stronger relationships:
Overall, recognise that the Annual Report is an opportunity for your company to engage with a variety of stakeholders. If you don’t take time out to review how the process works and what it is trying to achieve you are unlikely to know whether your Annual Report budget has been money wisely spent.