The key ingredient for a winning annual report

Executive input is essential to a successful annual report. While organizations often wait to engage senior leaders until there’s something concrete to show them, involving the executive team early helps ensure an efficient process with fewer hiccups.

Strategy should always lead creative.
Annuals don’t just tell any story — they demonstrate that an organization knows its purpose, makes good plans and can execute effectively. Senior leaders are in the best position to lay out what the strategic story should be, connecting the dots between last year’s achievements and next year’s goals. It’s important to respect that their time comes at a premium. An exploratory conversation can be brisk and brief and still yield all the themes and highlights needed for writing and design to proceed confidently.

Third-party facilitation helps.
Being asked questions from a fresh perspective can lead executives to consider their answers in a new light — resulting in a fresh, authentic story that’s specific to the organization, and helping avoid the creative clichés that often bog down strategically unfocused reports.

Avoid do-overs.
While communications directors often feel pressure to own the story of the year, their real role is to deliver a strategically on-target product. That’s all the more reason to gather the right inputs at the start. Whether simple or high creative, early executive input helps avoid costly and time-consuming changes in direction once work is underway.

The annual report is an organization’s opportunity to tell a compelling strategic story — and that starts with perspective from the top.