Getting the most out of your annual report

by Angela Harbinson
on 2 Nov, 2017
Angela Harbinson

Gone are the days when an annual report was merely an annual obligation to fulfil an organisations compliance obligations. Nowadays they are considered an opportunity – a chance to become one of your most powerful assets.

Promoting your annual report is an essential step to ensuring your report is read, shared and generates both media and stakeholder attention. With most companies now developing both a digital and a print report, it’s important to have a strategy that is integrated when it comes to promotion.

Are you getting the most out of your annual report?

In this article, I will walk you through some tactics around promoting your annual report and suggestions for repurposing certain elements to ensure you get the highest ROI on all of your reporting efforts.

 

Transforming your annual report into your best asset

Typically an annual report will involve developing branded elements. These elements can be used, not only to enhance your report, but to be repurposed and strengthen your brand for the next 12 months and beyond of marketing and brand promotion activities.

For your annual report to be successful, the foundations need to be strategically laid right. The extent of value you can derive from this annual activity depends on three things:

1. Your report design and content: Creating your annual report with the intention of multi purposing its content should be a high priority for any organisation. The better your elements are (images, pull outs, graphs, infographics) the more powerful they will be as marketing tools. (This is why choosing a high quality and experienced partner to deliver your report is an absolute must.)

2. Your strategy set to promote your report. It’s one thing to have a finished report with some well designed assets, but it’s another to have a plan geared towards ensuring your report is found, read and shared. Setting a marketing strategy will ensure your report fulfils its purpose and that its elements are constantly providing value for your company.

3. Your strategy to repurpose the branded assets within your report. Your report contains a lot of content. A lot of which takes resources to build such as video, images and infographics. These assets can be tweaked and repurposed to drive other marketing efforts further down the track.

 

The annual report promotion hack

Like any project, put the strategic lens over your goals and objectives before diving into developing and delivering it. For the most effective promotional strategy, take the time to consider how you will promote your report at the beginning of your project.

When you approach it this way, you can save yourself some promotional legwork. How? You can build and engineer your report features to drive virality and generate organic marketing opportunities on its own. This approach is more or less a form of growth hacking. Approaching your annual report project this way will also set the foundations to help drive a higher ROI – all year long.

 

Engineer your annual report for success

The success you can achieve from your annual report, depends on how it is constructed and the quality of the elements within it. It’s important to think strategically about every section and element going into the report. You want to create a report that is engineered in a way that organically attracts attention and, when promoted, strengthens your brand image.

“You want to create a report that is engineered in a way that organically attracts attention and, when promoted, strengthens your brand image.”

 

Important things to consider when you’re in the development phase of your report:

  • The Creative Direction: To create an annual report that stands out you need a creative overarching theme. This is essential for direction and consistency. Take a look at Thirst Creative’s creative direction for the latest TIO Annual Report. The direction here was to make it about the public, this was executed creatively and consistently utilising a variety of aerial shots of the public.
  • Structure: the overall structure of your report needs to be easily segmented, this is especially important when it comes to the digital version of your report. The better the segmentation, the easier it is to share via your channels. Having visual content within this structure will also make it easier to grab attention on social media platforms as this is where visuals and other dynamic content can drive engagement.
  • Your written copy and voice: The written copy and tone of voice of your report can work to create captivating snippets that can be used for promotion across all of your promotional channels. It will also affect how far people dive into your report. Ask yourself, are you just stating facts or are you telling an engaging story that will grab both your stakeholders attention and the attention of the media. For more annual report content advice, read our related blog and download your free checklist.
  • Dynamic content: Videos, audio, interactive data and images need to be created with all stakeholders in mind. This will allow them to be easily tweaked and repurposed as marketing assets. When creating the content, keep in mind how it relates specifically to each target audience. This will help you formulate a more direct promotional message for each individual stakeholder across relevant channels as opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ promotion approach.
  • Design: Colours, fonts and layout need to be visually aesthetic and branded. Assets that are already branded are easier to repurpose for your marketing team. Need some inspiration? View our blog on annual report design.
  • Digital: Create an experience. This is the latest annual report trend. As more people move to digital platforms to consume content, digital microsites are becoming a popular way to display content. Digital opens up opportunities to showcase your report and build assets that print versions limit. Building functionalities into your report, such as easy options to share statistics on social media, can help your report be organically promoted and easily shared across all social media channels. For more digital annual report advice, read our related blog.
  • Optimise for SEO: When building your annual report online, take care to implement best practice SEO when it comes to URLS, page titles, headings and subheadings, meta descriptions and focus keywords. This will ensure Google accurately indexes your information and can ensures people are directed to your report from particular search terms. If there are newsworthy items, make sure your keyword research is done and your using appropriate language.
  • Tactile elements: Making your print report more tactile is a way to grab your reader’s attention and is also an opportunity to give your financial brand a physical aspect. If you aren’t a graphic designer or a paper stock expert, it’s best to engage an expert to discover the best options available to you. For more information about the effectiveness of print material, read The Power of Print Marketing.

 

Essential marketing assets to build into your report

Elements such as video, infographics and images make your report more aesthetically pleasing and can be used to increase your reports success, share-ability and effectiveness. These elements can be developed to increase engagement and improve your users experience when consuming your content.

When it comes to developing your report elements keep them consistent with your overall brand in mind. This will increase the effectiveness of your content and enable it to be easily repurposed as a branded marketing tool. This is where investing time into developing these assets can help generate more ROI.

Assets that you can create and use for promotions include:

  • Video: Did you know your brain processes videos 60,000 times faster than text? A well produced video within your digital report can be set to convey your brand’s personality and communicate information in a more engaging way. To maximise the return on your video, make sure it is geared toward all stakeholders. This way it can easily be used for social media promotions, uploaded to other pages on your website or uploaded to your company’s social media accounts. Sections of the video can also be taken out and repurposed in further company videos for the future.
  • Images: Our brain is more likely to remember images than text. When it comes to images, keep the style consistent and don’t stray too far from your brand guidelines. This will ensure brand consistency when they are used on social media to promote your report. It will also ensure they are readily available for repurposing in future company brochures, documents or reports.
  • Infographics: It takes your brain about 1/10th of a second to understand a visual scene. When it comes to telling a story, do it through infographics. Infographics are a great tools for promoting your report and grabbing the attention of both your stakeholders and the media. A well branded Infographic can be a great way to showcase your report and highlight data when promoting it. Infographics can also be repurposed for other branding promotions such as brochures, ebooks or posters.
  • CEO letter: The CEO letter contains a great summary of the year that was. It should also contain dynamic content such as images, video and even audio. Design the copy of your CEO letter to include key messages with snippets that are simple to pull out for promotions. Then repurpose it on more documents and promotions. These can be used for promotional messages across all your channels.

 

Setting your promotional strategy

When it comes time to promote your report, make sure you have clear goals on what each promotion hopes to achieve. This not only helps you run an integrated promotional campaign but also allows you to measure the effectiveness of your promotional tactics.
An example of some promotional goals are:

  • To increase online traffic to your digital report.
  • To grab media attention on important stories.
  • To increase the number of social shares.

It’s important to get your report noticed by all of your stakeholders. While the report is, and should be, targeted broadly, your promotions of it do not have to be.

A good way to get an understanding of your promotional opportunities is to break it down by audience, sort the data that is relevant to them and tailor each promotional message to speak directly to their individual interests.

When thinking about your stakeholders consider:

  • Relevant channels of reach: Where will your audience most likely be online? Do you have a segmented database where email can be a channel to target stakeholders directly?
  • The language and content of the promotional copy: Like any marketing activity, make sure your messages speak to the exact target audiences interests or pain points.
  • Highlighting key information with dynamic content: Don’t just send slabs of text, capture your audience’s attention with relevant images, videos and graphs.

 

Methods to promote your annual report

There are a number of ways you can go about getting your report in the hands of your stakeholders. It’s important to remember, your annual report and its promotions don’t have to end a week or two after it’s published. Sections, key figures and stories can be used to promote your brand all year long.

“It’s important to remember, your annual report and its promotions don’t have to end a week or two after it’s published. Sections, key figures and stories can be used to promote your brand all year long.”

 

Here are a few methods that you can use to formulate an integrated promotional strategy:

Website:

  • SEO: Ensure you optimise with keywords in your URL, page titles, meta descriptions and alt tags.
  • Website homepage: Make your report is prominent on your website.
  • Internal linking: Linking different pages of your website to relevant annual report pages will also be great for search engine rankings.

Internal sharing:

  • Your staff are also key stakeholders for your report. Send it around and celebrate the successes of the year that was with your team.

Social media promotions:

  • LinkedIn: It’s likely that stakeholders with an interest in your organisation will be following your business page on LinkedIn. Pin it to the top of your page once it has been released. To promote your report it’s advisable to do this in a number of posts. One that announces the overall report and others that talk specifically about key findings, elements or sections of the report. These don’t have to talk directly about the report but rather about the key information within it.
  • Twitter: Twitter has a character limit, that also includes links. To make the most of the available characters, be sure to shorten links and use relevant trendy hashtags. With Twitter it’s a good idea to pull out newsworthy figures that generate attention and media enquiries.
  • Facebook: Facebook has a great advertising function that can narrowly target key stakeholders. Advertise content that will be most relevant to the interests of your stakeholders.
    Instagram: Using your business Instagram you can announce your reports release. This channel is also a good place to repurpose images and lead people to case studies.
  • YouTube: Any videos contained on your online report should be added to your YouTube account. Be sure to include a link and CTA to the full report to get traffic from YouTube to read the report.

PR and media:

  • Have media releases prepared: Have media releases of your key information ready to go in anticipation of the release of your report. A high quality media release will increase the chance of getting your brand some positive PR.
  • PR: Consider engaging a PR company that specialises in your organisations field to help use your report to build your brand in the public eye.

Mail and email:

  • Print reports make sense to send directly to your key stakeholders. Email is a great way to reach your database. It’s a good idea to segment your database and tailor the eDM to appeal to each particular stakeholder. For example your internal email will have completely different language and highlights to one that is going to an investor. Include images and even graphs within your email to grab attention and encourage readers to click through to the entire report to find out more.

Planned events and activities:

  • Events can be a great way to promote both your brand and key successes from your report. This may involve community events where the topic is relevant to your organisation’s data and reports. This is relevant if the wider public is a key target audience of your report. Other events can involve smaller launch events with key stakeholders.

 

Making the most of your report: Creating an asset repurposing plan

Annual reports are usually a collation of content, graphs, infographics, videos and images, all of which are usually created for the purpose of the report and can be used to promote your report once it is released. But the use of these elements shouldn’t stop there.

These elements can potentially serve multiple functions for your organisation. Create a plan for all of the content that has the potential to be repurposed later down the track. A well thought-out strategy here will help identify opportunities for repurposing and create accountability for specific items to be repurposed. Executing this plan will also help generate more return on the investment it took to create each one.

 

“Create a plan for all the content that has the potential to be repurposed later down the track. A well thought-out strategy here will help identify opportunities for repurposing and create accountability for specific items to be repurposed.”

 

Note: When it comes to repurposing content online, take caution to not directly copy and paste slabs of texts. You most likely will need to edit or tweak content to make sure it fulfils its new purpose and speaks directly to the intended audience in its new role. Duplicating content directly isn’t the best approach, especially if it is on digital where search engines may punish your site for duplicate content.

Some items that can be easily repurposed include:

  • Fact sheets: Fact sheets within the report can be used across other relevant items of your collateral.
  • Business profile: You can use pull-outs of the business profile across other marketing collateral, including brochures and internal documents.
  • Infographics: Infographics are usually captivating and engaging. Depending on what content they contain, they can be repurposed for social media promotions, posters or other marketing collateral.
  • Case studies: Case studies can tell stories in a captivating way. They can be great for developing capabilities statements or for showing to potential prospects.

Things to think about for your repurposing strategy:

  • What are the goals for repurposing this content?
  • How will this section be repurposed to create more value for the brand?
  • How will this content be tweaked to ensure it is communicating with relevant target audiences?

 

Looking for more annual report advice?

Here are a few more resources to help you with your annual report project:

 

More about Thirst Creative

Our team of strategists, designers and website developers have a wealth of experience developing and delivering both print and digital annual reports, across a number of industries. We use best practice design and the latest digital functionality to ensure you deliver an engaging report that provides more value for your organisation this year.

Get in contact with Thirst Creative today.

Download your free Annual Report Checklist

Save time and money by following this checklist for planning and delivering your annual report this year.

Anual Report Checklist
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Download your free Annual Report Checklist

Save time and money by following our checklist for planning and delivering your Annual Report.

Anual Report Checklist