Financial Copywriting Blog

Spotlight on Corporate Reporting

17th October 2014|

We’re in October’s Finance Monthly magazine, giving our views on annual reports as part of the Spotlight on Corporate Reporting feature.

In the article, we talk about:

  • why good reporting adds real value for companies
  • how to be a good reporter
  • improving your annual report, including the key areas where companies need to do better
  • the importance of strong corporate governance reporting, and
  • the benefits of corporate reporting for private companies.

Click on the image below to download a copy of the article.

Spotlight on corporate reporting

What’s next for the strategic report?

6th October 2014|

Most companies have now published their first strategic reports, so this seems like a good time to look at what comes next.

In this free white paper, we consider how companies can make their next strategic report as useful as possible for investors.

Strategic Report White Paper

Copywriting projects – September 2014

4th September 2014|

We sometimes find that clients don’t realise the full range of things we can help them with. So from time to time, we’re going to post what we’re working on, just to highlight what we can do for you.

Annual reports

We’ve just wrapped up two annual reports for FTSE 250 companies, which are both repeat clients.

The first required us to write the strategic report from scratch, based on interviews with the chairman, chief executive, finance director and divisional MDs. At the same time, we edited the sustainability report and wrote an introduction for it.

How to write an annual report

7th March 2014|

Many people come to this site looking for advice on how to write an annual report. This post is for you. We’ve assumed that you’re writing it for a UK public company but most of the principles here apply to any kind of organisation.

1. Work out your timetable

It’s a basic point but you need to give yourself enough time to get the report written and published. Don’t underestimate this.

Writing an annual report can easily take eight weeks or more, bearing in mind that you need to gather the information, produce a draft, get it reviewed (often several times), then signed off by management and (probably) the board. Then you’ll need to allow time for artworking, proofreading, printing and mailing.

Calendar

You should have started weeks ago…

Eight steps for writing a successful white paper | Copywriting tips

1st November 2013|

You need to think before you write your white paper

A successful white paper needs careful planning if it’s to achieve your business goals. Here we outline eight key steps to pain-free white paper copywriting.

Writing a strategic report | Annual report copywriting

28th October 2013|

Strategic report content

UPDATE JUNE 2014: The post below was written when strategic reports were first introduced and refers to the FRC’s draft guidance on strategic reports. As of June 2014, the final strategic report guidance is available.

If you’re writing a strategic report, you’ve probably been overwhelmed with advice from your auditors, design agency, lawyers and others. Most of the advice we’ve seen rehashes the FRC’s draft guidance, without really stepping back and considering what’s important. In this post, we’ve picked out the key things you need to think about, so you can decide what – if anything – you want to do. 

Four tips for improving your sustainability reporting | Sustainability copywriting

31st July 2013|

Sustainability Copywriting

The best Alex cartoons skewer the City’s hypocrisy like nothing else. This cynical and outdated dig at sustainability isn’t one of them – not by a long shot. Even so, it does contain four excellent lessons for any company wanting to improve its sustainability reporting.

Are you ready for the strategic report? | Annual report copywriting

20th June 2013|

BIS logo

UPDATE: if you want advice on how to implement the new regulations, go to our post on writing a strategic report.

Last November, the government published its proposals to reform narrative reporting for UK quoted companies. The new regulations to bring this into force were finally laid before Parliament last week and were pretty much as expected, except they now include requirements to report greenhouse gas emissions which had been subject to a separate consultation process.

Three reasons that pie charts suck | Financial copywriting tips

10th May 2013|

Pie charts are everywhere. If you’ve ever had to present numbers, you’ve used them. They’re easy to create, look (superficially) smart and fill lots of empty space in your presentation or paper. I’ve used a ton of them, right up to the point that I found out they suck.

This revelation came courtesy of Randall Bolten’s Painting with Numbers. Bolten, an experienced Silicon Valley CFO, lists what he calls the deadly sins of presenting numbers.

Choose the right financial disclosures | Financial copywriting tips

29th April 2013|

It’s an inescapable fact that financial copywriting involves numbers, so I was intrigued to come across Painting with Numbers by Randall Bolten. As the subtitle says, it’s a practical guide to ‘presenting financials and other numbers so people will understand you’.

Although the book focuses on internal communication, there’s plenty for financial copywriters and investor relations professionals to chew on.

The future of narrative reporting | Annual report copywriting

2nd November 2012|

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published the latest instalment in its narrative reporting proposals. This is a set of draft regulations which will amend the Companies Act and come into force for financial years ending after 1 October 2013. This means that the 2013 December year ends will be among the first who have to implement them.

The Future of Narrative Reporting – what’s new?

BIS’s original proposal to split annual reports into two – a strategic report and an online annual directors’ statement – has been abandoned. The strategic report will be a requirement but annual reports will remain one document, as now.

How buyers buy – the lessons for companies and copywriters | Copywriting tips

15th October 2012|

One of the great things about being a copywriter is learning from your clients. The following was shared with me by Cindy Barnes at Futurecurve. It explains the process buyers go through when they’re deciding what to buy and – crucially from a copywriting perspective – what influences them at each stage.

This information can help copywriters guide clients through the materials they need to convince their customers. It’s also helpful for copywriters, when considering how to persuade potential clients to use our services.

Tautology – so good you said it twice | Copywriting tips

5th October 2012|

please prepay in advance

Tautology – saying the same thing twice or more – is one of the standout features of business writing. There are three main reasons that it’s so prevalent: it’s often used for emphasis, it’s easier than rewriting or finding a better word, and it’s a sure sign that the writer hasn’t thought hard about what they’re saying.

Inspirational copywriting: if you want to inspire, you need a great story

31st May 2012|

Inspirational copywriting

In the last year or so, I’ve had a couple of clients tell me that they wanted annual report copywriting that was upbeat and inspiring.

That’s fantastic, in principle. There’s every reason to aim high and it’s a good way to make your company stand out.

But here’s the problem. If you want to inspire, you need a great story.

Award winning annual report copywriting for Serco

26th April 2012|

Serco Annual Report 2010At the 2012 Strategic Value in Corporate Reporting Awards, our client Serco picked up the Tomorrow’s Company Award for Best Strategic Capability.

This is our second award winning annual report for Serco, having previously won the same award in 2008. Serco’s reports have also been shortlisted each year in between.