It’s all about the base, no trouble…

conference tableWe are now days into the final quarter of 2015. For most companies, this means finalizing the annual report. For others, it means getting started. Pulling together your company’s annual report can put a major drain on your staff’s already overflowing agenda. This is one of those times that it really garners a strong return on investment to contract a professional writer.

If you haven’t yet begun laying out your annual report, there’s still time to bring someone in to lend a hand. A professional writer (like me!) can work on any level you need her to in order to bring it all together and get it off to the printer. And if you’re a seasoned pro at this, a professional writer (like me!) can take a look at everything you’ve done and fine-tune it into a true masterpiece.

With a solid base from which to work, a copywriter will have no trouble writing your final report…and can do so more effectively and more efficiently than all of the in-house staff you can throw at it. That’s because the contracted writer will be able to give it her full attention from cover to cover, with no bias or internal pressures. Another major advantage of working with a freelance writer is that they bring a fresh pair of eyes to content of which people inside the organization might be too close.

AnnualReportHere’s an 8-step outline of the base information you need to pull together your final report with no trouble. Putting this all together to provide to the professional writer you choose or to add to your staff’s already lengthy end-of-the-year projects will make it all come together much more smoothly:

  1. Break down the report into its necessary sections and use a spreadsheet to track each section’s responsible writers and their progress. Designate one person within your company as your writer’s point of contact for this project—do not expect your annual report writer to chase down content from a dozen different departments.
  2. Consider using a cloud system for ease of sharing, such as Dropbox or Google Docs.
  3. Each section of the report is also considered a theme. On the spreadsheet, color-code each of the components to be included in the section/theme. Consider doing this in the final product as well.
  4. Deadlines need to be clear. Be sure to establish them up front, allowing time for research, interviews, draft copy, design work, edits, revisions, and lastly, adequate printing time. Find out what the turnaround time is from the printer and work backward to establish a timeline that can adequately address all the deadlines. Be sure to plan for catastrophes—minor ones at least.
  5. Preliminary information your writer will need you to provide in order to efficiently pull this year’s report together include the previous year’s annual report, competitors’ reports, transcripts from speeches given by key executives over the past year, presentation content, subject expert interviews, product brochures, press releases, news articles, analyst reports and website content. (Do not simply tell your writer that she can find what she needs on your website… you will pay much more for her services.)
  6. 7K0A0947Your firm’s key point of contact is in a crucial role. It’s worth it for him or her to meet with your writer at the start of the project, also introducing her to other key players, or at least scheduling a Skype conference call. This helps to establish a position of trust among everyone.
  7. Your chosen writer will be able to craft 150-, 500- and 750-word versions of the final copy that can then be easily repurposed for use in many other ways by staff throughout the year.
  8. Once your annual report is printed, looking and reading more amazingly than you ever anticipated, consider working with your webmaster to post is as a downloadable PDF online as well. You can always post it in your website’s company information section, but you should also consider placing it online in your “media room” as well. (And if your company’s site doesn’t have a media room, well then we really need to talk.)

Choose a qualified professional writer now and you’ll always have a strong foundational base for this annual project. Remember, it’s all about the base…and with a strong one, it’s no trouble…