When it comes to the annual report, bear in mind…

The annual report has begun to come out of hibernation. While it is slowly creeping into our workflow, mostly in scheduling and kickoffs, before we know it, annual meeting materials will be all-consuming. Now is the time to get ahead of this bear.

From our experience, here are a few items we feel are worth sharing:

  1. For maximum value, try decoupling the “glossy” section from the 10-K to provide added shelf life for a good portion of the report. There are a number of ways to get there, but in the end, you wind up with two pieces, one of which can be used throughout the year.
  2. To market, to market! Too often companies bury the PDF or link to the annual report deep in the IR site. For starters, place it on the home page for six months to give it proper exposure. And share it through social media and email. This is not a case where if you build it, they will come—you have to do some pushing and pulling.
  3. The proxy should mimic the look and feel of the annual report, so keep this in mind as you develop the two documents. While it may be a close match to the A/R cover, you will want to tweak the proxy slightly so as not to confuse the two.
  4. Environment, social and governance (ESG) efforts will play a bigger role in more annual reports this year. Ratings, proxy proposals and other trends are driving more and better disclosure of ESG priorities. The annual report is ideal for conveying how non-financial efforts (and results) are embedded in a company’s way of doing business.
  5. If you are part of the growing population of online annual report-ers, you may be adding a new tab to this year’s report. Sustainability is now often seen as an integral part of a company’s value proposition. So, it’s fitting that it have a place of its own in the online report. These stories come alive when presented with animated data and video.
  6. Printed reports are still the dominant form of communication. However, you may want to budget more for printing this year. 10-Ks and proxies will be subject to increased paper prices as manufacturers retrofit paper-making equipment for other lines of business, like boxes, thus driving up paper prices. Also going up: deliveries. A shortage of truck drivers is causing increased fees for both paper and finished books. Plan ahead!
  7. Lock in schedules now. Between earnings, holidays, travel, board meetings, conferences, Q1 earnings and vacations (if we’re lucky), time races by and schedules fill up quickly.  Early planning helps prevent some of the headaches a few months down the line when many of these items converge.

Most important, maintain open dialogue with your design and printing partners. Relationships matter in this business and can be the difference between you getting the bear, and the bear getting you.

Curran & Connors has been telling companies’ stories for more than 53 years. Let us help you get the conversation started. If you have any questions, please email us at Info@curran-connors.com.

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