The Secret Weapon of Brand Positioning, Forgotten by PR Directors
There are two reasons:
- Annual report is boring;
- No one was going to use annual report as a communication tool. It"s considered only as a one-off project, which kills three months of life of communications department professionals involved and then it will be forgotten.
How to transform annual report into the powerful communication tool?
There are some simple approaches that will enhance your communication and increase the efficiency of the annual report, turning it into a decent communication tool. With the right approach, the annual report will be a key tool for your content strategy. The effect of the publication of this report will diverge as waves from passing boats.
The annual report is a seed that will rise if you care about it and became the ideological foundation of your brand. In the medium-term strategy, each top manager has to deliver a report. The annual report is an excellent opportunity to talk about the work, explain the vision and ideology. It"s a kind of compressed content which shows good prospect. If you are starting to build brand awareness and didn"t know where to start — start with the annual report. The ability to present results in a beautiful way can turn your business into a legendary brand.
Can you afford to produce a product that nobody wants? The annual report is the same product that should be consumed. Otherwise, why should we spend our time and money?
The annual report is a document, but it shouldn"t be composed only with numbers and black-and-white pages. It should inspire rather than buffet. How often have you been inspired by spreadsheets and thousands of corporate words?
Of course, there"re a certain format and reporting rules dictated by auditors and supervisory board. But if you want to present your report for investors — use financial data. If you want to show the face of your company to clients and partners — prepare marketing annual report.
Let"s agree: your next annual report should become a high-profile event in the market, rather than a pack of printed brochures, full of dust.
Prepare more than just a brochure — create an event!
In order to attract a large audience, it"s necessary to present important information in a nice, modern and understandable way. Your report has to stand out from the faceless masses of others. Think outside of the box, present data the data in a convenient form: add graphics, infographics, videos, write about complex things in simple language so even members of Parliament will understand you.
In order to pass necessary messages through the information noise and show the most important facts and figures to your target audience, spread your report through different channels: email, social networks and media.
Explore market trends
An easy way to become an opinion leader, whom nobody wants to be in Ukraine, is to specify main market trends and show perspective in your annual report. Many Western companies are using this technique as a key point of attracting attention to the brand. Here"re a few examples:
Cisco report shows trends in mobile Internet development.
Apple report is always newsworthy. Media immediately grasp it on quotes and charts.
Amazon demonstrates innovation and shows how the company is ahead of the market with a letter to shareholders.
Tesla report creates debate among analysts.
Google sums up the year and shows trends in search requests, summarising them on a special website and video.
"Agribusiness in Ukraine" report is an excellent example of work, which shows market trends. This Baker Tilly annual report offers target audience an infographic colorful guide, full of interesting information on agriculture, set out in a clear and readable graphical form.
"Agribusiness in Ukraine" has blown media and local market. It"s a first time when a set of infographics on agriculture went viral before two months of the official release date. It was published by farmers and business publications. As a result, the report served as a communication tool for several months. The report was published as a pdf document, but in order to attract attention to it, more than 25 news stories were published on different sites, as well as many posts on Facebook. The total audience reached 20 800 people and the report was downloaded by 3 800 people. Even former Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Oleksii Pavlenko posted a photo on Facebook, where he demonstrates the report to foreign partners.
Show the value of your business
The report has to be written on customer's language and explain how your company can be helpful and how it"s changing the world. Details of services offered and success stories will be interesting to your audience only when you will show a real value.
What about financial performance? Your audience likely won"t understand specific terms and figures. Every client is looking for an answer to a specific question — "why do I need this information?" Instead of long explanations of what you have done, show what your decisions will give a perspective. The truth never looks like bragging.
Transparency is a trend now. The world is full of information and it"s stupid to remain closed to the public. Companies that can"t speak, aren"t interested in the customers. People want to know more information about the company and the product — just advertising or banner is not enough. That"s why the role of the annual report is changing. It"s no longer a formal document for the financiers. It"s a tool for attracting attention and communication with a client.
Tell the truth: tell the audience what your company was able to cope with, what didn"t work and how you are going to fix it. All this needed to show a perspective. In 2014 report Baker Tilly went from a way of describing products and services. Instead, the company identified forward-looking strategy and development trends for business, talked about experience and capabilities.
Explain the purpose and results of reforms
Clearly define victory from a defeat is a number one task of management of any state-owned companies. Questions of reforming state ownership, which for decades was used for personal gain, today cause a strong reaction not only society but also on those people who don"t want to move away from money and holds regular information attacks. A great example is a Naftogaz report. For years, this country's largest company was opaque and used for third party earnings. The new management decided to change the situation. One of their goals is to be clear and understandable business, which is controlled by European standards. In a report, the company explained how to pass the reforms, what they consist of, what is their ultimate goal and what results they have already achieved. The report is so comprehensive that even when company management is criticised, representatives of "Naftogaz" illustrate their answers with relevant pages from it.
Make your report understandable and helpful to customers
If you are thinking about annual report as a not as a formality, but as a set of information of interest to your target audience, you get content pillar, on the basis of which it is easy to create a lot of interesting pieces of information:
- Column in the magazine;
- Posts in social networks with infographics;
- Video with key figures;
- Microsite with basic thesis of the report for the promo report;
- Publications about market trends for the leading media outlets;
It doesn"t matter how much effort you put in order to create a great report if it remains on the company's website and in the dusty pack of printed brochures.
Do as FUIB. Their report was created not for shareholders, but for ordinary people: it tells how a bank operates and explains what is a reliable bank. The FUIB report is full of infographics and explains complex processes. With this report, bank proved to customers that it be trusted.
Unlike regular reports and reports of Ukrainian banks, FUIB report is full of graphics and much less text. It"s easy to read and visually appealing. Furthermore, of a pdf file, that can be downloaded, the bank created the site on which report is briefly outlined.
Your report won"t have any traction as long as you do not explain why it should be seen. Promotion should be done skillfully. You should promote long before it will be released. A column of a PR director on how data visualisation opened new possibilities, video on how the company's activities affect customers — there are lots of ways to inspire audiences desire to see your report. Don"t be afraid to experiment!
Transform annual report into PR event
Ability to present the results of the work turns an ordinary employee in an expert. Ability to present results of your work can turn a successful business into a legendary brand. Take the example of Warren Buffett and his vivid presentation of the report.
Every year he gathers thousands of shareholders in an extraordinary event. The press writes about this as the most important event in the business environment, it"s broadcasting online. Every year on the big stadium in Omaha, Nebraska passes ... no, not a football match. But a presentation of the annual report of Berkshire Hathaway — the holding company which Warren Buffett manages. On average, 20 000 shareholders attending it annually. To help you understand the scope: it is slightly larger than the capacity of the "Dynamo Kyiv" stadium named after Mr Lobanovsky.
Apple gathers investors and journalists four times a year, but not to introduce new iPhone. Apple talks about the company's performance. After the publication of the report, a conference call with investors and journalists held, when Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri answer their questions.
An interesting effect of such events is that stock markets immediately reacts, responding for falling or rising shares. FUIB used the same way and transformed the annual report presentation into a conference, where financial experts told the bank's corporate clients about important trends of the financial market and gave their predictions.
Stop waiting time and paper. The annual report should become a source of inspiration for the company and useful knowledge for clients and partners. The great annual report will give a competitive advantage.