keeping the end in mind

Amazing Annual Reports: How to Prepare for the End (of the Year)

By: Michele Tate

We’re barely three months into 2016, but wise companies with strong strategic plans for growth and aggressive goals for this year are already thinking about Q4. Now is a great time to start planning for how you’ll recap this year’s successes. Consider taking action on these helpful tips early in the year; your year-end or annual report will thank you later.

Keep numbers. While most year-end reports are full of financial updates, many fail to capitalize on the power of stats. Some of the most powerful statements that a company can make about its annual progress, can be expressed in numbers. Whether website analytics, volume of hours spent or number of families assisted, quantifiable statistics are impressive. But in order to have those numbers on hand for year-end, you need to start tracking them now. Count everything. It’s better to have more numbers than you need, than to have few to none available for use.

Take pictures. Not just any pictures, though. Capture quality images. When you’re recounting the story of your business year, pictures really are worth a thousand words. Including dynamic, thoughtful imagery will add life and interest to any data-filled or number-driven document. Those images are even better if they are uniquely yours—acting as a visual record of the people, places and happenings in the life of your company during a particular year—rather than generic stock photos. Special moments, milestones and events are nearly impossible to recreate after the fact, so make a point to have pictures taken at any and all important events (tradeshows, conferences, speaking engagements, celebrations, etc.). Take more than just class portrait style group shots. Look for images that tell the story of what your company does and how you do it.

Get witnesses. In the same way that photographic moments are nearly impossible to duplicate, it’s difficult to recreate the enthusiasm of a success or a happy client. Throughout the year, after big wins and kudos, capture testimonials or quotes that can serve as headlines and highlights. Memories of events are best (and most accurately recorded) when they are fresh. Similarly, it is easier to ask a client for a few words of promotional support as the celebration of achievement is in progress, rather than circle back to them six months later when the euphoria has worn off.

It goes without saying—but is worth noting anyhow—any annual report document will require some level of financial update and listing of names, whether they be an internal team, board of directors, auxiliary committee or donors/supporters. Do yourself a favor by keeping that data handy and updated throughout the year. Keep addresses and mailing lists updated as well. It will reduce scrambling and streamline your process when content is being pulled together for your report.

If you’ve already positioned your company for success in 2016, these tips should give you a good head start on preparing to tell the tale of your annual achievements. And should you find yourself in need of guidance when the time comes to relay those victories to your constituents and stakeholders, the Identity creative team can help you craft a tailored communication to reflect and compliment your organization—built to impress.