COMMENTS ON REPORT NARRATIVE
What makes an annual report score 10 points in this category:
A Comprehensive Story. An annual report is like a yearbook—it should shuttle readers through all aspects of the company’s business while weighting content towards those most interested in the company’s financial success and brand. Woven throughout this content must be a clear picture of where the company is heading—reassurance to investors that the firm has a solid game plan for moving ahead in the coming years.
Pop and Rhythm. The report narrative’s style needs to establish a cadence from page to page that keeps investors moving through the book while generating an emotional response. Readers need to understand how vital the company is to the world—customers, employees, communities, etc… They need to know that the firm is special.
Trends we noted this year:
Lifestyle Stories. We enjoy seeing a company whose industry is not normally tied to humanism come out with a report that truly describes its appreciation for the little guy. We like the message that a company is working to be the hometown hero to its neighbors who invest in it. This approach is particularly effective when used by ‘faceless’ organizations where their connection with the common man can appear as dubious at best.
Narrow Focus. Not a good trend, some books ‘go deep’ in a certain segment of their story and leave all others virtually untapped. This is not a winning strategy, especially if that ‘deep’ segment falls flat on its face eventually. Like a high school grad applying to college, work to paint the most well-rounded picture as possible—this way, there’s always something someone will find that they like.