Is The Annual Report Dead?

Is The Annual Report Dead?

Are you sick and tired of all the death notices appearing about various marketing this and thats? Maybe we should all go into the obituary business; I hear it’s deathly! LOL, I couldn’t resist a stupid joke.

Being in public relations I get death notices all the time about the demise of my profession. The poor news release has about nine lives. I think we’re on the fifth mourning period for that communication vehicle!

Let’s think about another traditional communication vehicle. You already know what I’m talking about because I gave it away in the headline!

In this case, I must say the demise of the corporate annual report is none too far fetched.

History Of The Annual Report

Let’s consider a historical perspective:

The Securities Act of 1933 [1] was a result of the famous stock market crash of 1929 that launched the Great Depression. While I couldn’t find documentation of the very first annual report (darn it), this document became de facto regulation as a result of the 1933 Securities Act.

Essentially, all publicly traded companies are required by law to inform and disclose to shareholders in full transparency the goings on within a company’s financials, growth plans, business transactions, and more. Imagine all the century-old corporations with their museum-piece annual reports filed away and mothed up!

For years corporate writers toiled over the biggest and most in-depth annual report they could muster. Graphic designers got in on the party and created museum-style artworks on covers and inside pages.

You know who got in on the action next, right? Printers!

Selecting paper, custom sizes, inks and varnishes were critical to the final piece. Our bankrupt post office was hugely happy as this piece of braggadocio was sent via snail mail to every stakeholder and journo with allegiance to the company.

Let’s tick off these folks who used to have a hand on an annual report:

• Annual report copywriters – fewer and far in between
• Graphic designers – only if they’re digital
• Printers – never again for annual reports (OK, maybe five)
• Mailing house – ugh, only for a select 100 on the list

Can we agree the corporate annual report is dead as we knew it?

Indeed.

The Influence Of Technology

The technology revolution has caused an evolution in all things written and designed. The paper industry has been relegated to pre-historic times and printers are now lobbying to save the trees (kidding).

Pretty much this story is accurate. Corporations still need to inform stakeholders and investors in a fully transparent manner with annual reports; yet these documents are no longer printed or sent via snail mail.

Unfortunately, publicly traded companies are using online files in
Adobe PDF to share these branded documents. Guess what’s wrong with that?

Have you seen what’s happening in cinematography today? You can pay for 3D glasses to watch scary monsters burst from the screen and attack your face!

Now think about that one-dimensional PDF as the annual report. The mouse scrolls in vertical fashion, nothing pops, no clicks for cool graphics interactivity and no contact forms to capture an email or two.

Are you tracking with me?

Enter Readz

Recently, I was introduced to the CEO of Readz and got the opportunity to dive in a bit deeper to what Readz is all about.

I love visionary leaders, and in this case, Bart de Pelsmaeker is spot on. He has the distinct vision to delete the PDF from all websites and graphical interfaces. I cannot disagree with his foresight.

Instead he wants to make the annual report (and any other piece of marketing collateral) 3D for mobile marketing. It’s about time. We’re stuck as users in PDF land and it’s quite unengaging with a capital YAWN.

This piece Bart wrote about online magazines gives solid reasoning why marketers need to look to interactivity and graphics solutions for all online publishing.

Essentially, each marketer and business owner should be on the path towards digital marketing. When you ignore the opportunity to increase lead generation and conversions via interactive publishing and mobile marketing, then you FAIL.

Business has changed, and if you’re not morphing ahead of the curve, it’s a painful journey.

References:
[1] Wikipedia:SEC

photo credit: (cc): Chad McDonald

About The Author

Jayme Soulati is president of Soulati Media, Inc. She is a Message Mapping Master and public relations professional of 30 years. Jayme is an award-winning professional blogger and social marketing influencer.

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Jayme Soulati is president of Soulati Media, Inc. She is a Message Mapping Master and public relations professional of 30 years. Jayme is an award-winning professional blogger and social marketing influencer.