Sometimes hard to reachLast week, we posted a template you can use to remind people that annual report production time is coming up again for 2014, and to let them know what the main dates are.

This week, here’s a template for you to send to contributors who have done it before, and just need some basic reminders of what to do and why.

It’s sometimes harder to reach out and touch the hearts of people in your own company than it is to reach your customers or potential customers.  But never fear, between us, we’ll have them up and motivated to finish off their chapter or chart before you can say “regulated due date”.

So this template is designed to be pasted in an email you send to contributors from the 2013 annual report. (Our next one will be an email template for people who haven’t contributed before).

It’s supposed to be part-motivational, part-instructional, but we know that you know your company better than just about anybody outside it, so you can just pop the text in there and edit as you see fit.

Annual report production email – previous contributors

Dear [name],

You might have seen my email last week about this year’s annual report.

We’re getting the ball rolling so we don’t risk missing the deadline for the 2014 Annual Report.

Last year, in your role as [role name], you had responsibility for [the thing he or she is responsible for], so we’re looking forward to including your contribution again this year.

I’ve attached a [word document] with you contribution from last year, so you can remember what you wrote. You can write something completely new, or you could use that document as a jumping-off point for your contribution for 2014. Of course, it can’t be the same piece of writing (even if nothing has changed,we have to make sure there’s some variety in the writing), but many people like to have a place to start.

If you’d rather write your contribution from scratch, here’s a basic procedure that could help you.

Basic write-up procedure

If you follow this procedure, you’ll get your contribution at least 80% done. Once 80% is done, the last 20% is easy.

  1. Work out what you have to write about, and what is irrelevant, too much detail, or already covered by somebody else’s department. Just focus on what you need to do and don’t worry about other people’s content, except do have a conversation with people in overlapping areas to decide who does what
  2. Work out what the main subheadings will be. Often, the subheadings are given by the major projects you worked on or key performance areas
  3. Under each subheading, write the ‘who, what, why, how, when’. This will help you think through what happened and hopefully not miss something out. It will also help your writing to read more fluently, like a formal story
  4. Under each subheading, write a) the most important thing about what happened b) the next most important thing that happened c) any unforeseen outcomes or obstacles in that area that affected it and d) how the team dealt with a), b) and c)

After doing 1 to 4, you will easily be able to see if there’s an important point missing, or if there’s a good opportunity for a picture or a chart to illustrate what you’re saying. You’ll also be able to see what to leave out, and what you leave out can sometimes be just as important as what you put in. Don’t leave out details that are material to the success or failure of your area or the company, but do leave out small operational details.

Key dates

  • Draft contributions due back from contributors: [date]
  • Signed-off, final contributions by: [date]
  • Review period: [date to date]

Could you please help me manage the workload for the 2014 Annual Report by checking the following? Please let me know if

  • You are not going to be here to submit a contribution by the key dates
  • Whether you do or don’t have somebody who can write your contribution in your place. If you know who they are, let us know so we can keep him or her in the loop
  • There may be a hold-up or a complication in you getting the information that is necessary for you to complete your contribution.

[Name], thanks so much for paying attention. I look forward to your contribution.

Best regards,

[Your name]


That’s it. When you send it, some people will tell you why they won’t be able to help. That’s great – you know there’s a problem so you can get organised around it. Keep track of the people who don’t answer at all and remind yourself to follow up on them. Annual Reports are one of the few documents that people work on from all over the company, and sometimes you’ll discover that there’s a contributor on your list who simply does not exist. Well, they’ve left the company or something like that.

Don’t forget, if it all gets a bit too much, you can hire us using our cheap n cheerful $995 Annual Report, which includes editing and layout, PDF publication, for up to 32 pages.







Just for you! Previous contributors' template - for your 2014 Annual Report production by

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