Sometimes the best corporate stories are the most complex and challenging to tell, especially if you are trying to do so convincingly in the voice of a particular CEO or other senior executive.
Properly done, annual shareholder, sustainability reports and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports serve as a company’s longest-lived message platforms. But they sometimes turn out as missed opportunities that yield little public return on a substantial investment of time and resources. In our experience, the often sprawling process of message development, review and revision can work in opposition to clarity.
Yet clear, candid and credible corporate reports can strengthen the bonds of public and investor trust when they showcase the vision, values and strategic commitments that drive today’s profitable, socially engaged businesses.
In recent years, advances in digital technology, 24/7 news coverage, and growing shareholder and community activism have created an age of increased transparency that magnifies the potential reach and importance of a company’s published words.
Meanwhile, public expectations for clarity and candor are rising.
Messages in reports that work share at least five common characteristics:
- State a vision clearly and identify the values driving it;
- Take on broad sector and company-specific issues – right up front;
- Identify operating, financial, social and environmental milestones with accountability for both hits and misses;
- Explain clearly how management plans to improve lagging metrics and build on successes; and,
- Give credit to the people behind the story.
We offer a macro-to-micro suite of services:
- Research broad sector issues through qualitative and quantitative research using internal, online and other public resources, as well as proprietary polling tools;
- Recommend a systemic process of information collection and review that provides reasonable timelines, eliminates redundancy and yields firm up/down content decisions at milestone dates;
- Draft a crisp, engaging, jargon-free first draft of the CEO letter; and,
- Coordinate with creative staff and consultants producing the electronic or published final report.
Hillenby principals have had the privilege of working with the CEOs, CFOs and Treasury chiefs of some of America’s leading Fortune 250 corporations as they prepare annual shareholder reports and published reports on sustainability and social responsibility. The sectors where we have provided editorial assistance include consumer retail, energy, financial services and health care.
We are eager to help your company produce reports that educate, convince and persuade. Doing so takes time and work. We understand the difficulties of managing the internal process. But we are experienced in working with senior management and their staff to voice their story in compelling, authentic and original ways.
Name the national award for excellence in this crucial area of corporate communications, and one of our principals has probably won it. Or come close. But we don’t measure success by awards.
We measure it in real life, in real time, one relationship at a time — by the favorable responses and reactions our reports receive from our clients’ customers, institutional or small investors, and employees; from the individual federal, state or local regulator, journalist or politician that matters the most; and from the social, environmental or corporate governance organization and activist closely following your story.
At Hillenby, we would be delighted to have a confidential meeting to discuss your company’s own ambitions, goals and processes in the writing and production reports that can advance your business objectives.