Annual Reports- should your organization have one?
Annual Reports are used frequently by many businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. This typically give an insight to the year behind us and a small look at the year ahead. If done correctly these can be amazing resources of information that can be used time and time again. I highly recommend them especially for nonprofits and government agencies.
Here are some things to consider before starting an annual report….
Content: Does your organization have something to report?
Annual reports are supposed to be full of information about how much your company has accomplished over the past year. If your company didn’t hit many of its goals or have a list of accomplishments this may not be the year for you to start one. And it may be time to bring in a professional to discuss your business plan because an entire year without completing goals or accomplishments is a long time without progress and could be cause for concern. Contact your Small Business Development Center for free of low cost assistance to build your business.
I’ve also run into organizations that have the exact opposite problem and have so much success and so many stories to tell that they can’t pick what the most important topics are. If this is the case consider reading back through your news releases and social media post to see what stories gave you the most interactions with people. Check your website analytics and Facebook insights to find this information.
When thinking about the content of your report it should be valuable information and many times should contain quick statistics such as amount total hours giving back to the community, number of new clients, or total training hours. For emergency response reports think how many incidents occurred and then display that information in a visually appealing manner. Definitely consider visual aids to help you in many areas of your report!
Creation: Internally or externally?
If you are going to create an annual report, I highly recommend taking the time to make it visually enticing. Most graphic designers or marketing firms are experienced with this type of publication and are a great resource. However if you need to create it internally considering asking someone who has a large experience in publisher or word. Focus on the statistics mentioned above with brief content and great pictures and you can create a great report!
Publication and Distribution: Where can people find your annual report?
Printing annual reports can be costly but they are very helpful! Printed reports need to displayed in your office, at events and taken around with your team all year long. I do recommend printing a small amount of your reports and delivered to agencies you work with for them to display as well. Consider chambers you are a part of, towns/cities that you serve and take the time to visit your most important clients to hand deliver it, perhaps with a small thank you gift for them being involved in the success of your past year!
The most important place your annual report needs to be is on your website. Right on the home page! This information is valuable and should be found very easily. Once it is up on your website, you need to tell people it’s there. Send an email with the link to important contacts such as board members, clients, investors and most importantly your own team! Ask your team to forward the information to their contacts as well.
It also needs to be shared on your social media outlets. So create a graphic that has the cover and the announcement of the annual report. The graphic should fit all the size parameters of each social media outlet. (Did you know each outlet has different size requirements? Click here to see the 2016 size requirements from our friends at Constant Contact.) Another thing to consider is keeping your report in your mind all year long. Many times I receive questions that can be answered by reading the annual report. So I kindly answer the question and then link to the annual report where they can find more information. Efforts like these can dramatically increase the reach of your report.
A final note on distribution, although somewhat costly for small business and government agencies, consider using ISSU for posting it on your website. This is a great way to have it be read similar to a magazine. In my experience they have been great to use and it looks much more professional than a pdf document. However if you need a cost saving option, upload the annual report as a pdf to your site.
An annual report can add a lot of value to your marketing and branding strategy. If you would like to learn more or get a quote for Tallent Co to create yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.