Annual Reports… Who Reads Them?

No one.  Annual Reports are long, boring and usually have awful photos. Well…not all of them. Some people actually do read them, because even though they are few and far between, there are good Annual Reports out there.  You just have to know how to create them.

Corporations with shareholders have to report their Income Statements, Cash Flows and Balance Sheets.  However, no one reads financial statements. So, if that’s all they published, no one would know about all the other wonderful things corporations do.  They have to put their Income Statements, Cash Flows and Balance Sheets in pretty packages so that people will read about the other contributions they make.

Non-profit organizations are not required to produce Annual Reports. But they do. They want their donors to see their names in print as a thank you for their contributions. Publicizing the charitable work that they perform may inspire others to help out as well.

Make it Easy to Read

Annual Reports usually aren’t. There is so much information organizations want to share that it ends up in tiny print.  You don’t have to include all the details of the last 12 months. Pick a few great things that you think are more than interesting. Use a larger font. It’s easier on the eyes.

Pick Great Photos

Don’t use stock photography.  Make it genuine and hire a photographer to capture events throughout the year.  Use close-ups whenever possible and candid shots rather than stiff, posed images.

No Stiff Copy

Punch it up. Make it fun. Invite the reader into your world. Instead of, “More than 350 people attended the annual fundraiser, and a good time was had by all…” include a quote from someone who attended the event. It gives the article a more personal feel.  “I had great time at the annual fundraiser. The entertainment gets better and better each year. My children loved the balloon animals and the talking bear.”

Engage the Public

No one wants to read a bunch of comments from employees about what they do at such-and-such a place. They want to read about people like themselves.  Ditch the employee humdrum and find real people who are benefit from your products or services.  Include real testimonials from the company blog or Facebook comments. Make it real.

Make it Accessible

Save a few dollars and make a pdf version that can be electronically distributed. Hard copies are nice, but you don’t need 10,000. You can save on distribution charges using email, or have a link to the document on your website.

Who reads Annual Reports? More people will. If they are easy to read, have great photos, include interesting, easy-to-read copy, stories from real people and are easily accessible, they will attract the inquisitive rather than repel the curious.

About Montrie Rucker Adams

Montrie Rucker Adams, APR, DTM, MBA is an award-winning writer and public relations professional. As president and chief visibility officer at Visibility Marketing Inc., she leads the marketing communications and public relations company in strategic stakeholder engagement, making people, products and services more visible.