Thinking About Annual Reports?

It’s that time of year when thoughts of annual reports start to show up on the radar of a paper merchant. After receiving my recent annual report kit samples for 2009, I got to thinking about what my customers might find useful when it comes to working on their next AR project.

As a paper rep, I get the chance to work early on in the process with the creative and production teams, and the one thing I hear over and over is that companies cannot “appear” to look like they are spending a lot of money on their annual reports. There is the common misconception that coated paper, particularly glossy coated paper, appears “expensive.” In actuality, the opposite is true. Coated paper tends to be less expensive than uncoated paper and definitely less expensive than a premium text and cover sheet. However you can have the best of both worlds – a cover stock that is a heavy text and cover stock marries well with a coated sheet for the narrative which can help keep costs in check while giving the feel of being understated. The financials are perfectly acceptable going on more economical grades like offset or opaque.

To get a true sense of what’s available and being produced currently, samples are your best bet. Your first line of defense should be your paper merchant. As someone with first hand knowledge, I can tell you we get a whole host of fantastic samples from our suppliers – some are one of kinds featuring a certain print technique or unique paper. Others are part of a “mill buy-in” where the mill gets involved via the merchant rep on a project that is going to be on one of their papers. The process involves sending the mill a pdf of the artwork to see if the direction fits well with their marketing of the grade, and if so they may opt in to buy x number of copies of an annual to use as promotion. I am a big fan of this – it’s a great way to see what companies are doing on real life budgets.

Samples are great for getting a feel for what’s trending in annual reports. For example, Corporate Social Responsibility reports are being done by 16 out of Fortune’s top 20 most profitable companies (according to Neenah Paper and Addison) - clearly stating that CSR is no longer a nice to do. As for the format being used most by companies these days, you guessed it – the 10-K wrap. Companies are also starting to rethink how they are communicating their information with both printed and online versions, and video is gaining wide acceptance within the online AR. And if you need further proof, cheaper isn’t always less expensive, check out Neenah’s "Annual Report’s Are Hot" poster and the cost analysis done on “Notice and Access” – you can request your copy of Neenah’s "Annual Report’s Are Hot" poster through our online sample studio.

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