Pretty soon you’ll be getting your year-end financials so you can begin producing your company’s annual report. Here are some handy tips on how to get started.
You’re the alchemist of your company’s annual report – working your magic to collate the haphazard copy, imagery, data and graphs from multiple sources for your company’s statement piece of the year. And, you’re to ensure that this illustrious piece of marketing collateral that takes a good chunk of your marketing budget, is produced on time, is beautifully designed and of course is error-free. Perfection is sought. No pressure at all, right?
So here are seven tips to take you from loathing to loving the process of producing your annual report.
- Make a plan, Stan!
Break out the sheets of paper and sketch a flat plan. What purpose does each page serve? How is every section going to deliver value? And when you think you’re done, grab last year’s report and double check that you haven’t missed any crucial sections. How does the flow appear to your intended readers? Did you want to improve on anything from last year that might impact the structure or layout? Now get that plan signed off!. Tick.
- Herd those cats.
Take that approved plan and ascertain exactly where the content is coming from – you? Another department? Your agency or freelance copywriter? The suits in legal? Make a list and start herding. The more you have in advance to brief your agency or internal designer, the better.
- One statement to rule them all.
And speaking of the brief, this is a marketing piece that will leave a long lasting brand impression so work on distilling your brand message down to a single clear statement. A crystal-clear brief is better than a muddy one.
- Another list.
This time it’s a list of who needs to OK each section. If you know those key signatories are going to be scarce for time, get their support staff to ensure they have calendar time blocked off to review their section. Then there will be no excuses.
How are you going to manage the feedback? The last thing you want is commentary coming to you via phone, illegible scribbles on print outs, long-winded email trails…so design the process of how you want to receive all the feedback first, before you experience collaboration chaos. Trust us on this.
- Timing is everything.
You know your print deadline, so work backwards from there allowing for a contingency plan because almost always someone involved will go on leave, get married, need to say goodbye to Fluffy, their beloved cat, and subsequently need extra time to proof their section.
- Seeking perfection.
Get down to the fine details – page numbering, font hierarchy consistencies, triple checking those figures, read aloud the copy one word at a time, watch out for those tricky apostrophes and have a healthy respect for whitespace to keep it readable and interesting. Fresh eyes will help dramatically with this process, so rope in a few newbies to the project to help you proof.
Don’t forget to keep the artwork moving along quickly and efficiently, mark up the revisions, edits and feedback clearly – give just one set to your agency or internal designer at a time – this will dramatically speed up the turnaround saving you time and money.
- Lastly, go electronic.
There’s always further opportunity with providing a digital copy of your annual report and use this medium to add greater depth to your brand with video content, animation and of course, extra content.
The founders of PageProof, Marcus and Gemma have brought you these tips, and we’d love to read your comments on what you love about your annual report process. Feel free to post in your comment links to inspiring annual reports to share with the sfAMA community too.
Wondering what PageProof is? It’s the answer to making proofing and approving all your marketing collateral easy. Visit https://pageproof.com to try it out for free.