At first, Dominic Jones (aka @irwebreport ) just mentioned an article for UK magazine “Communicate” today, on ”What does good reporting looks like.” Then, he said he “liked” it. Being Dominic and being Annual Reports one (THE) pet peeves I have, I thought I would like it as well. No quite. And since it takes more than 140 characters to disagree with Dominic, here it is:
The short version: they are asking too much from a single (and already tired) channel. The ideal report should communicate the entire story in a “joined-up story linking business model, markets, strategy, KPIs, risk and material CR issues.” No less.
The long version: If you go ahead and ask AR professionals (design, consulting, etc) what they think “good” report should contain, you are bound receive the “ideal” report. That’s not even that great, since the AR pros are not users of ARs to begin with, so their “ideal” report is probably something that only other AR pros will be able to recognize and appreciate. See that I not even implying that they have a hidden agenda or anything. It’s probably their best advice and they are, I’m quite sure, all very experienced and acomplished professionals. But the piece completely misses the point.
Moreover, this “good/ideal report” approach dodges the fundamental question: what do you want from the report you are producing? The number of possible answers to this question is as large as the number of respondents, of course. Do you communicate on an ongoing basis, using several (or, at least, a few) channels and maintain a good level of engagement? Well, you report is going to look quite different from the one of a company that keeps it to herself for the entire year. As it probably should.
It validates my own opinion (no surprizes here, really) that Annual Reports are an overglorified and overworked communication channel that has, in its current form, limited usefulness.