How to Create an Annual Report People Actually Want to Read
Another year, another report. Ensure this year’s is a must-read — and inspires action.
Pulling together an annual report is a daunting task — one that requires organization buy-in, countless numbers and, of course, on-time execution. But when all is said and done, is anyone actually reading your report? These hefty publications often end up missing the mark, and in the trashcan instead.
Here’s how businesses can create an impactful annual report with carefully curated content and thoughtful design.
Define your audience to tell a story.
The reader always matters. A report created for business leaders and local politicians should paint your organization as an economic engine and contributor to your city, state and/or region. A report for donors, on the other hand, should focus on impact and include personal stories, while one used as recruitment tool should prominently feature staff and innovations. Either way, your audience should inform the story you tell — and how you tell it, through tone, imagery and calls to action.
Capitalize on emotions.
You can say you’ve changed lives, or you can tell the stories of the lives you’ve changed. For healthcare systems, patient profiles will elicit more emotions than a simple number — and they’ll showcase your hospital’s leading staff, research and technology in a subtler way. Casual Astronaut anchored Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s annual report on three magazine-style patient spreads. The stories featured custom photography, emotional editorial and physician sidebars to make the institute more personal.
Curate your numbers carefully.
Perhaps the whole point of an annual report is to showcase a company’s success in the previous years, with data to support it. But it’s incredibly easy to fall into a numbers trap. By curating your numbers carefully, they will have more of an impact. Girls Who Code’s 2016 annual report calls out key figures in an interactive way that’s memorable and effective.
Don’t skimp on design.
Intriguing illustration, typography and infographics can instantly elevate a bland annual report. Do you have custom imagery? Don’t hesitate to take an editorial approach with full-bleed photo spreads that readers will surely remember. If stock is on the docket, no worries. For Case Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 2017 annual report, we used unique filters to add texture to stock photos, and let interesting typography do the heavy lifting. Another option: Custom illustrations and infographics can tell a story numbers and words alone won’t.
Ready to tell your organization’s story but not sure where to start? We can help.
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