Re: Creating annual reports?

Subject: Re: Creating annual reports?
From: "Mason, Catheryn" <CMason -at- INFINITEC-COM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 14:43:11 -0600

I think the first thing you'll want to do is to nail down the type of
annual report that your company wants. There are many different sorts
of annual reports -- some are the length of a short book, some are four-
or six-page fold-outs; some are peppered with graphs, some have none;
some contain mainly financial information, while some only have a
one-page year-end financial report; some are heavy with professional
quality photography, while others have no photographs at all, or perhaps
only a picture of the board of directors, etc. You may, as an initial
step, gather annual reports from like companies working in your sector,
present various potential formats/designs to management, and go from
there. Many decisions will depend upon what function your company wants
an annual report to perform. Are they publishing one simply because they
must? Are they most interested in disclosing financial information,
information on specific projects or products, or perhaps historical
information about the company itself?

I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the reports of other
companies (competitors, maybe?), then meeting with whoever is driving
this project at your company and agreeing upon the pieces to be
incorporated in the project - company history? profile of the
organization's goals? mission statement? information on investors?
information on the board or profiles of the president or CEO? what sort
of financial information is necessary? will you need graphs? will you
need photographs? will you need information from sources outside the
company, and who would you contact for that? etc. etc. Once the pieces
are agreed upon - and it's established which pieces you will
write/edit/create and which you will receive from other sources - then
you can treat it much like any other writing project, with a production
schedule, review sessions, and so forth.

I wrote and edited annual reports for a large (non-profit) foundation
where I was employed for six years. We were a grant-giving foundation,
and used our annual report as an educative device and as a way to draw
attention to the good work that our grantees were doing. Our annual
reports emphasized the mission of the foundation and contained the
following pieces of information: an essay on the organization's founder;
a statement of goals; procedures for applying for a grant; essays on
issue areas (in our case, environmental protection, so we broke this
down into smaller categories with more focused topics, such as systemic
contamination, sustainable agriculture, etc.); lists of organizations
which had received grants from us that year (dollar amount of grant,
organization contact information, and a one-sentence description of the
project funded); a list of board members and staff; and two pages of
financial information. Our reports were full of photography, glossy,
and expensive, and usually ran to about 120 pages. It was essential, in
this case, to work with a really good offset printer and to be available
for round-the-clock press checks while our reports were being printed
(usually over a 2 or 3-day period - the reports cost about $25 a pop, so
naturally we wanted to ensure that no mistakes were made). This is just
my experience, and I'm sure that others on the list have different
experiences writing, editing, managing, or producing annual reports.

If you have any specific questions with which I might be able to help,
feel free to e-mail me personally.
Good luck!

Catheryn Mason, Infinitec Communications
cmason -at- infinitec-com -dot- com

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