Some tips to achieve excellent communication

By Brian Mahoney, director of FCR

The Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) panel of specialist designers, writers and communicators that I coordinate for the Special Awards for Communication looks for a ‘wow’ factor in the reports we examine. We rarely see it.

The ARA’s general awards are given for disclosure and high standards of business and financial reporting. In comparing how well reports communicate, we look for:

  • A cover with attention-grabbing impact, or graphic sophistication
  • Logical, navigable structure, lively pace through each section
  • Quality of the writing, graphic design, illustration and photography
  • How easy it is to absorb the main messages
  • The insights we gain from case studies, graphs and charts
  • How the corporate personality or brand character is projected in visual ways

A report should be more than a summary of the year’s accomplishments, figures and percentages.

It’s worth reminding ourselves investors in ASX-listed companies, as well as donors to non-profit organisations, make decisions based on emotion as much as logic.

Research has shown they are more impressed by qualitative aspects, such as the ability of management, reputation of directors, their own familiarity with the brand, their understanding of the business model and perceptions of the industry sector, than they are with quantitative performance metrics.

To help the reader/viewer invest emotionally in your brand, organisations should highlight not simply achievements, but the impact of achievements:

  • Talk in terms of outcomes, not simply outputs.
  • Describe the impact of any achievement – on, for instance, future earnings capability, or the communities and people who benefit.
  • Include case studies on customers or local communities.

And above all, aim for clarity and succinctness. Our ARA panel is often entranced by thin, focused reports with creative flair, that tell their story well. We look for creativity in presentation and authenticity of voice, not quantity of information!

More information and entry forms for next year’s annual report awards at: arawards.com.au