Most marketing and communication teams are already stretched thin. Piling one more project on those busy schedules is unrealistic sometimes. So when it’s time to strategize the annual report, it’s challenging to shift priorities.
Sadly, the result is often a rushed annual report that lacks the impact it could have with more time and attention.
Early planning can help you prepare for the time it takes to organize such an important piece of marketing. And with earlier planning, you’ll also be able to build a strategy for distributing your annual report effectively.
After more than 20 years of producing annual reports, we know the strain it can put on marketing teams. That’s why we’ve created these tips for still issuing a quality annual report when your team has no time.
Reprioritize Your Projects
Even with the best planning and preparation, you might need to evaluate your priorities to make time for your annual report. Look at projects with deadlines that coincide with your annual report.
Decide whether those projects carry as much weight as your annual report and whether they are as timely. If not, adjust your deadlines to give your team more time to focus on developing your annual report.
Include Your Annual Report in Your Marketing Plan
It might be too late to fix this now, but in future years, make your annual report a part of your marketing plan. You’ll see three crucial benefits from this activity.
1. The annual report will be a priority project.
2. You’ll have time to consider how to reuse content and information from your annual report in your other marketing channels.
3. As a team, you can create deadlines for various aspects of your annual report well in advance and start working toward those.
This advanced planning will help you avoid your annual report being a rush to the finish line or a last-minute item you throw together.
Make the Most Out of Your Content
One of the best perks of creating an annual report is that you will have videos and graphics to use in your other marketing efforts.
So while you’ll need to adjust priorities to make time for your annual report now, you should free up some content planning time to work on other projects. After months of planning and preparation for your annual report, enjoy the new surge of videos and graphics to update your website and freshen up your social media content.
Depending on how you shoot and edit your videos for your report, you might need to consider various use cases now and make versions. You don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you don’t have the raw content to edit later when you hope to use it for other purposes.
Schedule a Luncheon with Finance
When it feels like there just isn’t enough time, consider ways to lighten the mood. The finance team will play an important role in developing the brief financial overview section of your annual report.
Sometimes, it’s the last information that the marketing team waits on to finalize the annual report. Be proactive and start the conversation now. Discuss the metrics you need for the report and deadlines for those metrics.
Check-in regularly throughout the annual report process to make sure the information you need is coming. Don’t wait until the last minute to discuss your needs with the finance team as it can create hurry-up work and errors.
Book Time with Your C-Suite Early
Getting on the calendar for meetings with your C-suite is challenging. The earlier you book these appointments, the better.
Schedule an initial conversation to discuss your vision for this year’s annual report. Then book time for additional needs with the individual. This should include time to capture them on video to make your annual report more interactive and engaging.
When planning out these videos, make sure that the C-suite member isn’t just reading the executive message. Make these videos feel more human and like a commentary on the report than just another way of presenting the same material.
Help the C-suite understand their role in the annual report and the importance of their participation. This will help them keep it a priority on their calendars.
Consider Outside Help
When there isn’t enough time, consider bringing in outside experts. Hiring an agency to write, design and manage your annual report can take pressure off of you and make your annual report more impactful while you can focus on the big picture.
You’ll see many benefits from hiring outside help with your annual report, including:
· A fresh perspective for positioning your message and including fringe stakeholders you might not have considered.
· Knowledge of current trends that will work in your favor to get more engaged readership.
· Creative ways to elevate your brand and reuse collateral from your annual report in other areas of your marketing.
Before you start working with an agency, make sure they understand your brand voice. Don’t hand the project off until you’re confident the agency can capture the messaging you’re aiming for as this can really slow down production.
Involve Your Printer Early
Months in advance of when you plan to print and distribute your annual report, you should talk to your print company. Involve them as early as possible for best results.
Early involvement can mean you’re more likely to ensure your sustainable paper choice is available. You’ll also get on their schedule early to meet your production timeline.
Discuss your expectations for reviewing proofs and paper dummies to build that into your timelines for production. Ask about turnaround times from when you deliver final files to when the printer can complete your total order.
Prep the Mail House
Another holdup in the distribution process for an annual report can be the mailing list. While your creative team is developing the content for your annual report, you should be discussing your needs with the mail house.
Before turning over the list for review to your mail house, you should also take some time to review your lists for additions from events, online forms, etc.
If you’re using a new mail house, allow extra time for learning their processes and the file types they support. Companies that use a custom envelope should send samples to the mail house to check for any issues well in advance of mailing the annual report.
Design Positive has more than 20 years of experience creating dynamic and engaging annual reports. Our team knows how to develop content for various stakeholders and valuable graphics and videos that will be useful all year long. For a full annual report strategy, contact us.