Integrated reporting was recommended by King III back in 2009 and is a JSE-requirement for listed companies. Long gone are the days of turning out a document where your biggest concern is that the digits align on the financials. Today you need to worry about the big picture. What your company conveys as a whole – not just via the numbers.
Integrated reporting combines the organisation’s financial and non-financial information on economic, environmental and social matters into the core of its business performance, and clearly expresses the organisation’s attitude towards sustainability issues.
King III has changed the focus on businesses away from being just about the economic benefit to shareholders to that of the business being a well-rounded corporate citizen that has a responsibility to society. Integrated reporting, as a result, does the following:
- Demonstrates how a company behaves as a responsible corporate citizen
- Helps show how the company will create future value, and
- Reveals the collective thinking of the board.
With such a document no longer just targeted at analysts and investors, an integrated report becomes the PR professional’s secret weapon. Your stakeholders don’t just want to know what numbers you have achieved over the past year, they want to know who you really are, where you’re going and what it’s going to take for you to get there. The right kind of integrated report can do this for you – and more.
The guiding principles of the International Integrated Reporting Framework are clear about how to steer your document:
1) articulate your strategic focus
2) meaningfully connect your information
3) convey your future orientation
4) adopt a responsive stance focused on stakeholder inclusiveness, and
5) create an integrated report that is concise, reliable and relevant.
And once you’ve considered this, there are some general best practices that will always serve you well:
Avoid the technical or specialised lexicon of a specific social or occupational group. Or what’s commonly known as ‘jargon’. Not everyone gets it and you could easily alienate your reader, or worse, they might not understand what you’re talking about.
It might be a cliché… so avoid it like the plague. When you’re trying to communicate clearly and concisely, clichés can end up just getting in the way.
A picture speaks a thousand words. There’s usually a lot of information to convey and one of the best ways to do this is with meaningful and effective infographics.
Don’t forget the proof. And we don’t mean the evidence. An error-free, well put-together report that does all of the above is the goal.