The annual report is one of the mammoth tasks my department faces every year. However it’s not just those of us in corporate communications who are pulling together at this crucial time to get the annual report ready for the financial statement press conference; our contacts in the business units, at the MANN+HUMMEL locations and in Group Reporting, as well as the shareholders, agency and translators, are all hard at work too. It’s actually amazing how many people are involved!
At the last minute
No matter how early we start, it always ends up being tight for time, not least because the figures are only finalised shortly before the financial statement press conference. Our push to the finish sees us typing and layouting under great pressure right until the very last second. However, the first copies of the report, which is almost one hundred pages long, arrived safely on time, a day ahead of the financial statement press conference.
Communicating authenticity with the annual report
It was important for us to tell the real-life stories of actual employees in the report. Companies often use the annual report “to blow their own trumpet”, but we wanted to let our readers form their own view of us. To this end, we devised a new visual feature: a photographer was commissioned to take 360° panoramic shots at our locations in Raleigh, Shanghai and Himmelkron, and these images were then displayed over fold-out pages in the annual report. The aim of these images, entitled ‘360° – Operational Excellence’, is to communicate an impression of MANN+HUMMEL by telling the story of the locations.
An annual report for image communication
The challenge when compiling the annual report is that it has a very wide range of target groups, spanning investors, bankers, shareholders and employees. Moreover, our experience shows that it is also read by many job applicants. The annual report gives them a true picture of MANN+HUMMEL, far removed from purely product-related information. In the 1990s, the figures would receive a 30-page spread, but it has since become commonplace to use the annual report to promote the company’s image. Our aim is to convey a certain feeling and leave readers with a realistic impression of us, which ideally will also be a positive one.
This year was particularly challenging for me because I was entering new territory with the annual report. As the ‘Corporate Marketing and Design guy’, I am responsible for the report. My first task was therefore to digest the mountains of information and work out which sources would provide content. The great thing here is that you always have contacts willing to help you out.
The layout has to be designed with the main subject matter in mind. We usually tie in the concept of ‘filtration’ with something open, light and clear, which is why this year’s report is beaming white. For the first time ever, we have also created a micro site to make the content – which we have put so much time into researching and editing – available across a variety of media. We hope this will offer the various target groups different ways to access the information. The micro site has the same look and feel as the print version, and with just a few clicks, you can easily access all the information.
Especially outside of our sector there is plenty of scope for us to boost our profile even more. In the annual report, we want to demonstrate that we know what we’re talking about, have a global set-up and are a real force to be reckoned with. The images are designed to reinforce this message and, in my opinion, we have succeeded. Work on the next report is set to start even earlier – now in fact. There’s no such thing as a long breather: the end of one report simply means the start of another.