Why your annual report must be printed—and strategic in tone

Don’t put off putting together the most important publication of the year. Here’s how to get started.

The annual report is, for many communicators, the most important—and most dreaded—publication of the year. It’s more an event than a publication.

It’s the CEO’s calling card and the organization’s most comprehensive statement of its plans for profitable growth. Every word counts. Hell, the typeface counts.

So it’s tempting to delay the pain until early next year, especially with the press of fourth-quarter deadlines: budgets, the annual meeting, communications planning, performance reviews, and quarterly reports.

Don’t put it off. That takes you into next year. The month after the holidays is a cultural hangover building to the Super Bowl. Then you’ve got a fire drill, and your relationships absorb the shock.

Remember that best practices matter in communication. Keep the following steps in mind when you’re putting together your annual report:

1. Research: Did you, at the very least, conduct a survey with focus groups asking key constituents what information they want in the annual report: employees, investors, community residents, customers, industry influentials?

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