At a time when senior corporate managers face increased scrutiny, the annual report has become more important than ever.
To build credibility and answer growing concerns about corporate accountability, the report's message must be clear and consistent and address the concerns of key audiences—now is not the time to print your report and hope for the best.
In 1990, MarCom began working with annual report producers to test the design and messages in annual reports. Looking beyond traditional focus groups, we test the draft copy and design among employees, individual and institutional investors and financial analysts, and help develop a final draft that incorporates their feedback.
Focus groups constitute the first layer of review. They enable me to go to the chairman and say, ‘This book will succeed in telling our story to shareowners. This book works.’ I want to get to this point before I ask him to look at a complete draft of the narrative section. I want to make sure we have the right message, the right language, the right layout, the right photos.
Vice President, Corporate Communications
Tellabs Operations, Inc.
Thinking that we instinctively ‘know’ what our audiences need can quickly take us down the wrong path. Market and Communications Research helps us focus on what's important by quickly and comprehensively testing images and text.
Director, Corporate Communications
Merck & Co., Inc.
Market and Communications Research can help you:
- discover how investors and analysts react to the draft or the final report;
- learn ways to strengthen the organization's key messages;
- improve communication of complex scientific, environmental, regulatory, and other technical information;
- detect elements that confuse or distract readers; and
- refine the draft report or assess the final report's effectiveness.
- polish the text of the draft report.
- document the merits of the final report.
Such focus groups offer extremely practical feedback. You receive a detailed study that discloses any obstacles to conveying your key messages; identifies particular words, phrases, or arguments that are problematic; and explains reactions to the report's layout and style.
This independent evaluation of your annual report offers rapid and objective answers when you need them most. The process has proven to be valuable whether the goal is to polish the text of the draft report or to document the merits of the final report and gain ideas for the year to come.