We’ve been hearing about the imminent demise of the annual report for over 25 years. Funny thing is it’s not dying — just evolving.
For many companies there is still a firm commitment to the report (as a report, review, 10-K wrap or responsibility-focused communication — in print or online). Granted, the purpose, content and format are changing. The Proxy is coming to life as a more meaningful communication opportunity. Sustainability content is on the rise, in some cases the leading message. But, at the most basic level, why are some companies still doing annual reports, beyond the bare minimum legal requirements? Here are a few reasons why companies still produce annual reports.
1. It’s the “Swiss Army Knife” of communications
There is confusion. It is often the only communication, aside from the corporate website, positioning the company to a wide audience, bringing together different businesses and brands. In print or online, a report is a de facto corporate brochure, a marketing and recruiting tool that presents the corporation’s depth and scale in one place as a point-in-time record of accomplishments, milestones and goals. It is a brand building and reputation enhancing tool. And, it drives traffic to your corporate website.
2. It’s CEO-driven
As a CEO vehicle tied to a legal deadline (even by a teeny thread), it gets done. Every time, on time. It can serve as a CEO calling card for high-level discussions with customers, partners and governments, uniting the company’s strategies into a cohesive whole. You don’t need to be Warren Buffett or Larry Fink, every CEO letter is read carefully.
3. It’s a resource
Within the company, a report is a go-to source for approved content and images. Vetted key messages are used throughout the year for numerous audiences. High-quality photography and videos are leveraged in company facilities, trade shows, presentations and, of course, on social media. With its high profile, the report ensures message alignment across the company.
4. It’s an opportunity
Not only a historical record, a report can create deeper understanding of what you do, why you do it and how well you do it. A report can engage your employees and prospective employees, build trust in your organization and set your company apart — clarifying why people should invest in the stock, work at or with the company, and believe in the brand.
The big take-away
At the end of the day, annual reporting is a prime opportunity to reach diverse audiences — through print, online and video. Taking advantage of the opportunity tied to the annual deadline is valuable to many companies, so no eulogies just yet.
IOP partners with clients to strategize, create and promote digital and print reports or all kinds. For nearly 20 years we have advised companies from Fortune 50s to IPOs. Feel free to call or email with any questions. We’re happy to talk about your situation and how you can make the most of your Annual Reporting efforts.