Public not pubicA couple of weeks ago, we posted a template that annual report editors can use to remind last year’s contributors about putting together this year’s annual report.

Often, the contributors to your annual report are scattered all over the organisation; sometimes even in different states. This makes it difficult to get everyone pulling together at same time, and before you know it, your printer deadline has been and gone.

The difficulty can be compounded when there are new contributors who have either not been with the company for long, or who have never written a formal report.

To get the best quality writing – writing that’s clear, condensed and appropriate to the tone of the annual report, it’s important to communicate with new contributors clearly, and to give them plenty of structure and reminders.

Here’s a text template we wrote that you can send to your new contributors. You can use it as it stands or modify it to suit you.

Annual report production email – new contributors

Dear [name],

As you may have heard, we’re starting to compile the annual report for the 2013-2014 financial reporting period.

This email is to let you know we’re going to need a contribution from you about [describe briefly in a few words what you need the person to write or compile].

We know that the employees of [your company name] have generally very good written communication skills. Some of you have lots of experience writing formal reports, and some of you haven’t, but regardless of which group you feel you’re in, I’m confident you’ll be able to write a clear and appropriate report to include in the annual report.

Annual reports have two main components: the financial reports and the management commentary, or operating and financial review.

What [we/i] need you to do is to contribute

  • [a paragraph/a page/three charts/ some pictures – specify the kind of work]

about

  • [subject/s eg the company’s safety review, the annual fundraising dinner].

Due dates

Our due dates are:

Drafts to editor [or other role]:

Editor requests changes or revisions by:

Final versions returned to editor by:

Final written version to graphic designers by:

There will be no opportunities to alter contributions once the annual report has been sent to the graphic designers to be laid out, except where a mistake that is a clear miss-statement of an important fact that would mislead the reader.

How to get started

Formal writing can sometimes be a bit daunting, particularly if it’s for a serious document like an annual report. However, it’s easy to manage if you know how.

  • Make sure you’re clear about what information is needed in your report, and what information is unnecessary. Cut out all the unnecessary information.
  • Write a bulleted list of six things or less that you think are important in your report. Make sure it’s only six or less; if it gets bigger, you will need to take a higher-level view and group the issues differently. Looking at your report this way ensures it provides the most top-level information to the annual report’s reader and does not add too much operational detail
  • Use the bulleted list as your subject sentences and remove the bullets. After each subject sentence, write a small paragraph with more details. Then stop. Don’t worry about whether you get it right first time.
  • Try to get some informal feedback from someone else in your team, but don’t worry if you can’t get it; bad feedback is worse than none at all in this area
  • Review your writing for errors of fact, spelling and punctuation, and non sequiturs (an example of a non sequitur is “we exceeded our limits”). Be wary of only using the spell checker as it can sometimes be quite inaccurate (for example, it will allow you to write ‘pubic’ instead of ‘public’).
  • Submit to the annual report editor and ensure you get a response email that [I have/she has] received it.

If you have any questions, please contact [name and email or internal phone].

Regards,

[Your name]

[Your title]

[Your contact details]

 

 

 

Template for New Contributors – for your 2014 Annual Report production by

at .