Most work-based New Year’s resolutions resemble Tolstoy’s famous lines on families – those that are achieved by years’ end tend to be similar to one another, those doomed to failure, fail in different ways.

The devil is in the details. We might promise ourselves to spend more time doing high-impact activities that make the most of our expertise, or to reduce stress by doing less overtime. But few of us actually make concrete plans to execute our intentions.

One of the most effective ways to change your work life is relatively simple – reconsider your approach to those activities that tend to drain your time and energy every year. For most busy marketing and communications professionals, that description pretty accurately sums up the annual report.

Free up time for other tasks, including strategy

Marcomms is always putting out fires – it’s part of the job description. But this can leave little time for your team to plan ways to promote your organisation through campaigns, develop new content, or address potential risks to reputation. Outsourcing your annual report – whether it’s the writing, the planning and coordination, or simply the editing and proofreading – gives you the opportunity to spend more time on the ‘bigger picture’.

Reduce the politics

Annual reports can become a place for different areas of your business to jockey for position, which often translates to groups pushing for space in your report. Bringing someone in from the outside can take some of the pressure off you to act as umpire. The fact that a professional editor or writer is being paid to do the job – and has experience behind them – gives them the standing to make tough calls about the structure. Leaving the wordsmithing and tricky task of incorporating feedback from multiple stakeholders to someone external also gives you the space to review copy and make edits at a higher level.

Use a fresh set of eyes

An external writer or editor can provide a valuable perspective on your annual report.

They can refine your copy – or standardise the tone if there have been multiple authors. They will also often see interesting things about your organisation that you might not have noticed or have lost sight of over time.

Of course, it’s also quite likely that by the time you send your report to be edited, you will have looked at it so many times it’s hard to see straight, let alone spot a typo or an awkwardly expressed sentence.

Tap the expertise of someone who knows the difference between an em dash and en dash

A professional editor knows their stuff, even the itty-bitty fiddly stuff. They’re happy to check off whether your designer has correctly accepted your changes into a PDF. They’ll take the time to go through your Word doc with a fine-tooth comb to ensure you’ve used active voice and that all the publications are italicised … They may even help win you an award in the process.

And remember – you don’t have to go it alone

There are those who love preparing an annual report, but many more find it a difficult and stressful part of the job. If you’re in the latter camp, it could be time to bring in the professionals. Letting them take control is a bit like hiring someone who knows what they’re doing to paint your house. Sure, it may cost a bit more to get them in at first, but the savings in time and hassle – and the more polished result – make it well worth it in the long run.

If you’d like to talk to us about writing or editing your next annual report, you can contact us here.

By Meredith Tucker


Read more 

How to create an award-winning annual report

The secrets to writing clear corporate reports

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