JDJ Creative are annual report design specialists. In this series of articles, we look at best practices regarding the design of these documents. In our previous article, we looked at the planning stage of your annual report. In this article, we investigate how to choose the best channel for your annual report...
Skip to section
- Why create an exceptional annual report
- Planning your report
- Choosing the right channel
- Design pointers
- The JDJ process
- Disseminating your annual report
How to distribute your annual report
The way that we all consume media has changed dramatically. Throughout this century, we’ve seen a major shift in terms of a ‘print to digital’ transformation. Glossy hard copy brochures, articles, manuals and many other printed items have been replaced with digital campaigns and automated software.
This does not mean that digital is always best. Print and digital both have benefits when used correctly. Your target audience and company sector may determine which route you wish to take. A company committed to reducing their carbon footprint may prefer to be digital-only, while those with established or tactile luxury brands may wish to produce a printed report.
When planning your annual report, as with any marketing campaign, it’s important to consider the unique properties of both media to decide which is best suited to your particular purpose.
Benefits of printed annual & sustainability reports
According to neuroscience, paper beats digital formats in many ways. Indeed, despite the enormous migration to electronic media, research shows that paper-based content and ads still offer special advantages in connecting with our brains.
- Tangibility - Physical material is more ‘real’ to the brain. It has a meaning and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with our spatial memory networks.
- Credibility - There is something about print that gives a sense of legitimacy. We associate weight with quality.
- Branding - Print is excellent for solidifying your brand identity. Its tactility engages our senses, forging a deep emotional connection.
- Engagement - Consumers are more engaged when reading printed material – whereas websites are often skimmed in as little as a 15-second visit.
In an era of ‘fake news’, print is seen as a more trustworthy medium than digital outputs. Indeed, in the UK, traditional media is trusted by 57% of people compared to 36% for online-only media and 28% for social media. Proof that the printed word is still more trusted than digital statements.
Read more: Making sense: Touch
Why create a digital annual report
The internet has revolutionised direct communication. Not only is digital media highly convenient, but it enables content to come to life through video and interactivity.
Here are some of the benefits of a digital annual report:
- Global distribution - There are no geographical barriers or state borders online. Every issue of a report can potentially be viewed by everyone worldwide, at any time.
- Lower costs - Using digital media avoids the inevitable costs associated with printing and distributing hard copy reports.
- Reader analytics - Digital media enables you to get to know your report users better. What sections are they spending more time on? What devices are they using? Such insights can help you improve the user experience in future reporting campaigns.
- Virality - Digital media can have a huge impact, fast. Virality describes your report’s ability to create a viral loop – taking the conversation to social media and gaining a wider reach.
- Interactive content - You can let readers search your digital document easily, navigate quickly and interact with its content – potentially allowing them to access a deeper level of messaging.
- Sustainability - There’s no waste with digital media – no excess printed copies to worry about.
Print & Digital reports - which is better?
Marketers and preparers of annual reports should take advantage of the unique properties of both paper and digital – depending on their specific needs.
Scientific studies have shown that paper can be more impactful and memorable than digital media. Providing important information in paper format may increase the reader’s comprehension and recall, meaning a hard copy annual report can be more effective for communicating detailed information.
A digital approach, meanwhile, offers its own huge advantages, including instantaneous access, localisation, powerful personalisation and targeting, audio and video, and more. A digital annual report can demonstrate the importance your company places on sustainability, its innovative culture and its willingness to embrace technology. If a picture paints a thousand words, think how much you could say with a digital annual report that’s media-rich throughout.
A third option is to combine print and digital reports. Maybe send a printed copy to major stakeholders, creating a sense of prestige for your most valued partners. Or create a lite digital version to display the key data, with a printed or pdf version containing the full report.
As we’ve highlighted, the trend to digital from paper is clear. The final decision depends on your target audience and the key messages you want to convey.
Now you’ve chosen which medium you will use to distribute your report, we will look at some design pointers to help you create exceptional reports.
Planning your report
Download your guide to annual report design
If you're enjoying this blog series, download our free eBook and read the whole report at your leisure.