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Annual Report Writing, Editing And Designing

Annual reports are often considered the ‘thoroughbreds’ of corporate document production: they need a steady hand on the reins to get across the finish line. You need an experienced organisation.

One like us.

During our many years as annual report writers and designers, we’ve picked up a thing or two about best practice in annual report production and will ensure you’re represented in the best possible light. 

A good annual report writer will ensure your copy is easy to read, and a good design solution will persuade and engage your shareholders and stakeholders including the use of cut through infographics. Every design element on every page must have a clear purpose and design should never get in the way of content clarity. In other words, a good annual report will deliver results, be on-brand and appropriately tell the story you want it to with the impact you seek.

Since 2000 Andrew Pegler Media has been involved in the plain English editing, writing, layout and design of around 100 annual reports.

Your Andrew Pegler Media-produced annual report will:

  • be written in plain English by a professional annual report writer / editor
  • be on-brand and on-message
  • graphically represent your organisation
  • speak directly to your audience
  • intelligently combine authority, emotion and reason
  • be accessible
  • cover both digital and print options.

Our work as annual report writers and designers over the past 17 years includes:

  • four for NAB
  • four for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • ten for Sustainability Victoria
  • others for Rio Tinto, Australia Post, EPA Victoria and many more.

And we love going digital! This exciting medium allows for videos, interactive infographics and even animations for more effective messaging. Online annual reports also provide crucial analytics — from identifying the most popular pages and animations or videos viewed to which infographics got the greatest number of clicks.

So whether you’re working in a government department, a government agency or a public company, talk to us today about how we can bring unparalleled excellence to your next annual report.

Putting together your annual report this year? Our blog Your 9 essentials for a good annual report will be a great help.

Recent annual report writing

Report on the Global Status of  Carbon Capture and Storage 2019

The brief

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an emissions reduction technology critical to meeting global climate targets. The Global Status of CCS 2019 documents important milestones for CCS over that year, its status across the world and the key opportunities and challenges it faces.

Taking an initial draft of supplied content, APM’s substantive editing assessed and shaped the copy to:

  • improve its structure, organisation and content
  • clarify meaning
  • improve flow
  • smooth out the language.

We also ensured it was audience appropriate and in a single tone – not in the different tones and styles of different authors. In addition, we formatted references and footnotes to be in a consistent style. Considerable stakeholder management and engagement was involved across a number of drafts. The final product was presented with great success at the United Nations.

Design was done by the very talented team at Fluid, an APM strategic partner.

Thank you for your professionalism and intellectual rigour. APM’s attention to detail made a huge difference to the quality of the final product.

Global status for ccs

Critical Infrastructure Victoria

The brief

Victorians rely on the essential services that Victoria’s eight critical infrastructure sectors provide to underpin our social and economic wellbeing. APM has produced four All Sectors Resilience Report providing an overview of the sectors, their key emergency risks, and resilience improvement initiatives they’ve completed for the year and what they’ve proposed for the coming year. As with the other we have worked with. this annual report needed to highlights the benefits of the continued collaboration and on-going focus on boosting our resilience to key emergency risks. And that investing in infrastructure resilience will better prepare Victoria to respond and adapt to changing conditions.

This regular APM client, wanted an annual report that would allow the public to understand the important work of this obscure, but crucial corner of government. Drawing from a mix of rough, existing material, press releases, ministerial speeches and reports, APM pulled together content for each sector of Victoria’s critical infrastructure. We then plain English edited the copy to ensure it was easily digestible by the general public without sacrificing its intent or intellectual rigour. This is a typical balancing act for us and one we always welcome.

 

Victoria's Critical Infrastracture

Life Saving Victoria

The brief

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) wanted an annual report that highlighted its engagement with the community and its stakeholders. It wanted to reflect its wide range of water safety activities across Victoria’s coastline, inland rivers and lakes, and public swimming pools.

In consultation with APM, LSV developed a copy template so management could record financial and business activities for the year. It covered:

  • major milestones
  • current and looming challenges
  • community links
  • stakeholder engagement.

APM then project managed the collection of copy across the organisation. We finessed the rough wording within the templates in to clear, concise, engaging plain English; ensuring LSV’s strategic themes and core values shone through.

LSV Cover

The Department of Education and Training 

The brief

The Department of Education and Training engaged APM to plain English edit and proofread approx.150k words of supplied, internally written copy for its full suite of four 2019 annual reports covering:

  • Department of Education and Training (DET)
  • Victoria Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA)
  • Adult Community and Further Education Board
  • AMES Australia.

DET Cover

Vision Australia

The brief

Vision Australia is a leading national provider of blindness and low vision services. This not-for-profit organisation had distinctive requirements so its annual report would be user friendly to the community it serves. The content needed to appeal to a broad range of stakeholders; from funding bodies to service users and volunteers. Language had to be inclusive and descriptive and the design had to meet very strict accessibility standards.  

Copy was sourced from a mixture of internal stakeholders, press releases, phone interviews, existing communications and other assorted collateral. The tone had to express Vision Australia’s integrity and professionalism — that it listens, adapts, learns and has the greatest respect for its clients.

Four pillars of success

VicRoads

The brief

VicRoads approached APM to overhaul and refine its draft annual report. The existing information had been collected from individuals across departments so it often overlapped, varied in detail and style and was a difficult read. VicRoads wanted a cohesive, plain English document that told a story and reflected the key focus areas of their corporate plan. It needed to be signed off for printing in less than ten days!

This job involved making sense of large amounts of material and presenting it in an interesting way. We also had to ensure that state reporting requirements were met and that the document was consistent with VicRoads’ style. We wrote an engaging summary; then case studies and data were finessed to reflect the messages VicRoads wanted to highlight. Other information was consolidated, simplified and edited. Due to the tight timeframe, where there were gaps, we often did our own research using VicRoads’ website and other Victorian government reports. This helped make the document more strategic and kept the process moving.

Thanks so much … APM was a pleasure to work with and tremendous in reworking the content and taking on feedback from stakeholders to produce a clear and concise narrative around our key initiatives.

—Sally McInnes, A/M Registration and Licensing Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, R&L Practice Standards and Solutions, VicRoads

vicroads annual report

Country Fire Association (CFA)

The brief:

This was the third annual report we wrote and designed for the Country Fire Authority (CFA), Victoria’s volunteer and community-based fire and emergency services organisation. CFA helps protect 3.3 million Victorians, and more than one million homes and properties across the state.  Using a mix of interviews with staff, case studies and primary source documentation, APM helped write and design the 2018 annual report, to represent CFA as an open, multicultural and tolerant organisation. Our  graphic design solution featured strategically-selected images and a style that reflected the key messages of inclusion and community.

Thanks for your great work in helping us to illustrates the changes in CFA and our development as an inclusive organisation that’s representative of the communities which we work.

CFA Annual Report

 

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

The brief:

In 2018 the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) supported 11 ministerial portfolios and their corresponding agencies. As the largest department in the Victorian Government its annual report would face intense scrutiny so needed to be clearly expressed and thoroughly proofread. APM plain English edited and proofread 78,000 words which included crafting the Secretary’s foreword, a comprehensive review of departmental activities for 2018 and its financials as per legislation in addition to other mandated information.

DEDJTR Annual Report

National Australia Bank (NAB) annual report

The brief:

Using a mix of information provided, conducting staff and customer interviews and sourcing internally completed pro formas, APM has written both the NAB annual financial report and its corporate responsibility suite the Dig Deeper Series. Both reports aimed to reveal how the bank had performed and created value through its strategy, operating environment, governance and financial and non-financial activities.

National Australia Bank Annual Report

The 9 essentials of a great annual report

  annual report

Annual reports are often considered the ‘thoroughbreds’ of corporate document production: they need a steady hand on the reins to get across the finish line.

Over the past 17 or so years Andrew Pegler Media has been involved in the plain-English editing, writing, layout and design of over 100 annual reports. This includes three for NAB, four for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, and five for Sustainability Victoria, as well as others for Rio Tinto, EPA and many more. During this time, we’ve picked up a thing or two about best practice in annual report production, which will help get you out of the starting gate!

  1. Stay on brand: The tone and style of your brand needs to be evident in your annual report through the design, layout, images and writing. It’s no good trying to convince people your brand is a champion if your annual report resembles a hack. The more on brand you are, the more consistent you appear and the more familiar you’ll be. But it’s not an advertising spiel. Given the serious and regulatory nature of the document, you can afford to rein it in a little. Essentially, your annual report is the form guide for your company and brand, a record of its past performance and future potential. And, as a front-runner in your corporate communications stable, it should clearly sport that stable’s colours. It’s no good saying your main point of difference is that you’re imaginative if the language and layout of your annual report is anything but. The same goes if you want to project a stable, conservative corporate image by keeping it low key but stylish.
  2. Less is more:Learn to edit. You may want to include every last entry but people don’t necessarily want to know everything. Stick with one simple rule: annual reports are a lot easier to read (and digest) if they’re well structured and have something interesting to say. What is the story? Decide what you want to focus on, and align that with your company’s key messages and brand. And include the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve advised many leading corporations on how to present both good and not-so-good news.
  3. Statistics can tell great stories: Graphically speaking, of course. Decide which statistics best represent your main narratives, and use them to highlight your strategy and performance. Consider highlighting your key achievements with a ‘this year in numbers’ page. Case studies and also very useful and of course info graphics are, as Zoolander’s Mugatumight say, “so hot right now”.
  4. Use stand out text:‘Pull-out’ text in a larger font can introduce the key messages on a page, and it’s a great way to catch the attention of a roving eye. For example, “Why we’ve doubled our IT investment,” or “Our UK business is looking up”. Case studies can also be very useful to engage the reader with the story behind the scenes.
  5. Going digital:Given the wholesale access to modern technology, printing an annual report is no longer a proven race winner. A PDF download is much cheaper, and a more effective means of getting the most eyes on this crucial document. It allows for videos, interactive infographics, even animations for more effective messaging. And you can still offer a print version on request — just fire up the colour printer and binder, lick the stamp and drop it in the mail. Whether you go digital, hardcopy or both depends on your budget, time constraints and, naturally, your shareholders/stakeholders particular preferences. A quick survey should reveal all you need to know.
  6. Digital reports and analytics:Presenting your annual report online means you can track every download — from identifying the most popular pages and animations or videos viewed to what infographics got the greatest number of clicks. In other words, what worked and what didn’t. It’s vital insider information that enables you to get the jump on how best to present your results.
  7. Screens, screens and more screens:Yes, many people these days will read your report on an iPad, smartphone or other device so be sure to design for this. Highlight your best stats and key performance points, have lots of white space and, above all, be concise.
  8. Consistency is essential:Tailoring information to your target audience is a golden rule, as is consistency in your company’s message. An engaging and comprehensive annual report should act as a stable mate to your overall communications strategy. For example, a report we completed for a major bank strategically reflected and amplified its upcoming 12-month plan of community activities.
  9. Picking a writer/designer: Writing and designing annual reports is a specific skill, and your approach and budget will dictate how you run that race. You may simply need someone to plain-English edit your supplied copy and lay it out in an on-brand design for the sprint down the home straight. Alternatively, you may decide on the long-distance runner, and have a company like us come in plan your annual report strategy from go to whoa. Either way, annual reports are highly technical documents and you need a steady hand so always opt for experience.