It’s that time of year again… time to dust off the ‘ole annual report and update it with new information. Admit it, you haven’t thought about sprucing it up in a long time. Why should you? You just plug in the new figures and send it out the door; after all, it’s just an annual report… it’s not anything fancy. But, do me a favor – take a step back for a minute and ask yourself, is it really accomplishing your goals? Could your annual report have more potential? Before you start down the same path again this year, scrap any pre-conceived notions about what an annual report should be, take a deep breath, and let’s re-think what your annual report could be.
(Breathe in, breathe out. Ready?)
Think of it just like any other marketing tool. Have a clear goal and always end with a call to action. Marketing 101. I know. And I know the answer is different for everyone. But if you remember to have your annual report come full circle to focus on your mission and, of course, relate to your audience, it will do wonders – not only when your gathering information, but in the response you’ll get from it.
So where do we begin?
Maybe it would be easier to start by giving your annual report a new name. How does ‘impact report’ sound? Think about it, what you really want to do is show how your organization has impacted the world. Start by sharing a few personal stories from those you’ve touched or helped this past year. It will give your report life and will humanize your organization. Plus, it will illustrate the results, not just share the statistics. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some personality – add photos, break up copy by highlighting quotes from members or donors, even share employee fun facts. Infographics are another great tool designers, like myself; use to quickly communicate some otherwise, boring information, with style. Timelines are a type of infographic that you could use to organize activities and accomplishments achieved throughout the year.
Now that I’ve got your wheels turning, let’s not forget about how your audience is going to view your report. Today, reports don’t always have to be printed. Especially if the budget it tight, think about printing only a summary report and then going digital with the full package. And I’m not just talking about a downloadable PDF, instead you could create a landing page or a microsite to house the report, just make sure it’s responsive – your readers could be viewing it from the smart phone or tablet.
And just like your content, get creative. Once you start thinking about taking your report digital, the possibilities are endless. Maybe a video or an interactive website might be the way to go.
You’ve had a successful year – don’t hide it in the same old boring report. It’s time to celebrate; be proud of your accomplishments, and more importantly, get your audience excited for what’s ahead. Check out a few of our favorites to get the creative juices flowing:
- Alpha Gamma Delta women’s fraternity reported campaign statistics utilizing a custom developed HTML5 website, illustrating potential for annual report information dissemination.
- Seguros Pelayo, (Hyperlink: http://www.biografica.org/trabajos/motion/seguros-pelayo-2012.html) the site doesn’t speak our language, but the personality of this annual report shines through.
- The GE Annual Report (Hyperlink: http://www.ge.com/ar2012) gives relevant context in a user friendly interface, mixing graphs and infographics to illustrate growth.
- The battle over better doesn’t end with taste, both reports are equally compelling in their own right. Which do you think wins Coke (Hyperlink: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/annual-review/2012/highlights.html) vs. Pepsi ?(Hyperlink: http://www.pepsico.com/annual12/#intro)
Blog contributed by Erin Green:
Erin serves as a graphic designer at Willow Marketing with nine years of experience in the industry. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the creative team, skilled in brand, retail, and promotional advertising, executing designs in a broad range of media formats. Erin has worked with a variety of clientele, developing compelling solutions in the healthcare, retail, hospitality, higher education, and advocacy industries.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Indiana Society of Association Executives (ISAE).