Create a buzz from the Annual Report

Åse Bäckström, Senior Director at Hallvarsson & Halvarsson, shares insights on how to create a buzz from an annual report. She offers a set of overarching recommendations for companies looking to draw attention to their annual reports.

Åse Bäckström

Senior Director, Practice Lead Corporate Reporting

+46 70 971 12 66

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Åse Bäckström, Senior Director at Hallvarsson & Halvarsson, shares insights on how to create a buzz from an annual report. She offers a set of overarching recommendations for companies looking to draw attention to their annual reports.

Challenge: Use strong messages, both in the narrative and in the format.
Be personal: Experiment with unique storytelling approaches or an unexpected structure.
Spread messages through other channels: Build interest in the long-term goals of the business and showcase the progress made.
Be bold: Choose unexpected communicative concepts and visual solutions that can attract attention on social media and drive traffic to the report and the company. 

An essential aspect is to present a concise and clear report with a narrative in the front end that demonstrates how the company creates value for owners and other crucial stakeholders, Åse Bäckström explains. 

Another crucial aspect is to find a logical structure throughout the report.
– Establish a common thread that ties together the various sections and parts of the entire report.
– Don’t be afraid to challenge with ambitious goals, as long as you support them with facts and figures in the back end.   

Another vital aspect is to use editorial techniques such as message-driven headlines, introductions, fact boxes, and quotes. 

– Don’t forget to disseminate the content and conclusions found in the annual report through other channels, both internally and externally. 

A common mistake is wanting to tell too much to many stakeholders simultaneously.
– Determine the target audiences and then shape the content based on their needs. Stick to the target audiences and tailor the messages. Don’t forget and don’t back down. 

This will become even more critical when CSRD/ESRS is introduced into Swedish legislation, according to Åse.
– The risk then is that the reporting becomes too technical. And that the narrative about how value is created is overlooked due to a focus on compliance with new regulations. 

 Another common mistake is that companies repeat arguments and concepts incessantly.
– Sometimes the word “sustainability” appears 20 times on one page. Additional editorial oversight is recommended. 

 

Åse Bäckström’s quick tips for creating a buzz from the annual report: 

  • Create an interactive PDF with easy navigation that can be read on a screen.
  • Include short videos, such as CEO messages and business cases.
  • Build on a strong narrative with a wow factor. Show that you will create returns for owners, both today and tomorrow.
  • Challenge, for example, by demonstrating how the company will transition to sustainable development.
  • Make the report attractive and easy to share.

 

Hallvarsson & Halvarsson annually conduct a survey of the largest listed companies on the stock exchange and their annual and sustainability reports.

The survey shows that the best reports are characterized by: 

  • Strong positioning messages at the beginning, often linked to how the company creates value for people and the environment.
  • Clear common thread in the reporting, often based on the company’s strategy.
  • Strong narrative showing how the company creates value, both for owners and other stakeholders affected by the operations.
  • Illustrations that explain how things are interconnected.
  • Modern design that is clear and supports the messages in the report.
  • Right length. It must be readable.

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