I’d worked with Addison on projects for a number of clients when they called me to write one for their own firm. They wanted snappy copy, rife with attitude and humor, to give newly public clients a preview of the singular professional experience that is the creation of an annual report. Beyond the basics of Why and How, they left the content pretty much up to me. This one was a joy to write.
letter from our chairman
“Annual reports,” a client we know once said, “are like babies. They each take about nine months to produce, and although you think you know exactly what goes into making them, you’re never quite sure how they’ll turn out.”
(Some people believe that annual reports suffer in this comparison. But while we agree that making a baby is usually more enjoyable, we would like to point out that no one has ever had to pay an annual report’s college tuition.)
In the past thirty years, we at Addison have produced more than 1,100 annual reports —and accrued at least as many anecdotes about the making of annual reports. As our business has grown, we’ve hired a number of bright, creative people, some of whom were new to the peculiar science of creating an annual report. And year after year, we find ourselves sitting those new hires down over a cup of coffee and sharing our experiences with them.
Recently, it occurred to us that those experiences might prove helpful to a wider audience, as well. So in the pages that follow, we have attempted to provide some tools to help you produce your annual report in a timely and cost-efficient manner. We hope you’ll keep them in mind, no matter what design firm you choose to work with. And keep us in mind, as well. Give us a call or e-mail us your war stories—amusing or triumphant—because we think you’ll find, as we have, that truth really is stranger than fiction…
what is an annual report, anyway?
By law, every company incorporated in the United States must report to its owners on each year’s financial achievements. For a family business, that might mean a toast at the Thanksgiving dinner-table. For a company whose stock is traded publicly on the New York or American Stock exchanges or the NASDAQ, it means publishing specific elements required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, namely a form 10K and a proxy statement.
Most corporations publish more than that, of course. A Letter from the Chairman helps to position the company and state the theme of the report. Editorial features offer additional ways to get your message out to employees, investors, and the media. Design and illustrations allow you to show things about your company’s character that mere numbers cannot convey.
shooting your boss
Congratulations! Many employees have been tempted, but as the person in charge of the annual report, you actually get to do it.
Some tips to help you do it right:
Schedule a morning photo shoot, before your executive gets worn down by the crisis du jour…