THE MOST IMPORTANT STORY YOU’LL TELL THIS YEAR

YOUR INTEGRATED REPORT MAY VERY WELL PUT YOUR STAKEHOLDERS TO SLEEP. HERE’S A GUIDE TO KEEP THEM GLUED TO THE PAGE.

It comes but once a year and for most organisations it’s a chore best given to the bookworms down the passage. But it’s an expensive exercise and a prime marketing opportunity missed if it doesn’t tick the right boxes. To get the most bang for your buck you need to tick quite a few:

Decide what didn’t work last time

Get a third party to do a gap analysis of last year’s report and don’t be scared of criticism. It means you won’t make the same mistakes again.

Tell a story of proper value creation

The core of integrated reporting is to tell a holistic story of how you’ve created value over time. Which is far more interesting than just reporting on what you’ve done. Don’t oversell and be honest about your story, because the truth is far more interesting than you think.

Get a good writer

They’ll be objective and tell you whether you’re colouring outside the lines. A good writer will also make sure your structure is sound and that they keep the attention of the reader. If you’re going to write it internally ensure there’s an editor with a heavy hand who’s not scared to offend the boss. This is probably the best money spent on any integrated report.

Give it a theme

Everyone likes a good story, so pull your report together through a proper theme. Make sure that everything from the six capitals to the outlook and key messages culminate in this story that is linked to a theme, without labouring the point and stating the obvious. A good place to start is with your objectives.

Don’t just look back

Thorough outlook information is needed in your report and integrated reports need to be forward-looking. This means you have to have a clear strategy for your organisation’s path in the short, medium and long-term. What are the certainties, what are the risks and challenges?

Use infographics

For those who don’t want to read too much, draw pictures. It’s an age-old solution but the first four pages of your annual report should contain ALL the information that you want to convey in infographic format, just in case people decide to read nothing else. Good designers will interpret your information visually and should, together with an editor, do this exercise last to bring the story together.

Do it right

With reporting comes communication obligations which can be confusing. If you’re listed, the reporting calendar includes the results progamme, which consists of  drafting SENS announcements, pre-close and results presentations or webcasts and post-results feedback. Then there’s investor roadshows, AGMs and media requirements. If it’s overwhelming and you’re not sure you’re doing it right, speak to IR professionals.

Your integrated report is not a brochure. It’s an intensely personal document and account of your year gone by, how you create value and your future plans and strategy. It needs to have true integrity. We all have some difficulty in telling our own story which makes it even more important to find someone you can trust to tell it for you. True objectivity is hard to swallow sometimes but your report will be all the more integrated for it.

Blue Apple has been writing, designing and publishing company reports for over 20 years, and partners with Singular Systems to offer a full spectrum of communication and media relations around integrated reporting. Together they can take you through the whole process from gap analysis through to investor roadshows. To get the most from your integrated report contact us here.

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