How to avoid Annual Report nightmares – how we can help

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Written By Maureen

Publishing an annual report can give you nightmares. TCC has the skills and experience to take much of the stress out of the process.

Publishing an annual report can give you nightmares; at TCC, we have the skills and experience to take the stress out of the process.

Annual reports are different – these are often the responsibility of the executive team who may not usually write public-facing documents. For the executive team that’s unused to writing annual reports, some organisations will provide access to the marketing or communications team, who usually handle written material for public release and others, will have in-house resources to help in the annual report process. Many will engage services like TCC, to manage interviews and writing, graphics and design, and editing and print.

What is an annual report?

An annual report records an organisation’s activities and finances for the financial year. Listed companies, financials and mutuals, charities and other not-for-profits, government agencies, and universities all publish annual reports.

We need to understand that there are strict rules for reports of listed companies or those governed by APRA (the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) and for government departments, universities and charities there are separate rules and regulations to follow.

How do you write an annual report?

Step One is to have a checklist of everything required for your report. After that, your list needs to include all items required by the rules and regulations that govern your company or organisation.

 TCC International has a comprehensive checklist of annual report components.

Ensure that you have evidence to support the information you include in your annual report. This is a common requirement for all annual reports. As TCC’s managing editor Maureen Shelley explains, any statement made in a annual report must be factually based. In turn, any forward-looking statements must have a sound factual basis or belief.

“As copywriters and editors, we look at a client’s website or public documents to find evidence for the statements they make,” Maureen says. “We have a duty of care to ensure that a client’s annual report is accurate, factually based, and publicly available evidence supports the report.”

Your Timeline

Step Two is to have a timeline for each item on your checklist.

Bringing an annual report together can be a complex, challenging task. Reports come from divisions or departments, and involve many people in providing all the necessary information. You need to write each report, check it for accuracy and veracity, and get sign off. There are often photographs you need, and facts and figures to be presented in an easy-to-understand format.

Work Backwards Towards Your Goal

The best approach is to work backwards. What is your deadline? How long does the printer need? And the design team? Usually design and printing will take about a month, which dictates your deadline for having the copy finished and signed off by all parties. Factor in:

  • Six weeks after June 30 for financials to be audited and statements prepared
  • Six weeks to collect reports from the other departments, write or edit them into a consistent tone to meet your brand guidelines,
  • One week for proofreading and checking.

Your Language

Step Three is to ensure the appropriate language or writing style is used.

Many organisations follow a brand guide for their written material, including annual reports. Above all, while using hyperbole (“we’ve had a fantastic year”) is fine, remember to support statements with facts – in the report or on your website. Also, all organisations, must follow the Disability Discrimination Act and ensure content is accessible, and this is particularly important for government agencies and those that receive government funding.


How TCC can help

If you need help with annual report writing or editing, now is the time to contact us.

There are many reasons to use a service like we offer at TCC. TCC can take the stress out of annual reports for you.
  • We will interview all your department heads (CEOs, Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors are a specialty) for you
  • Compile, edit and design annual reports of any size, and
  • As accessibility experts, we can ensure WCAG 2.1 standards in copy and design.

We can lower the stress of the whole annual report writing process for everyone from the smallest charity through to the largest listed company.