The adoption of the SEC’s “Notice and Access” regulation in 2008 brought many changes to corporate issuers’ processes surrounding the annual shareholder meeting: specifically the required delivery of the annual report and proxy materials to shareholders.
Notice and Access gives shareholders the choice to opt-in to receive all annual materials online, rather than hardcopy via snailmail. This web-inizing of the proxy environment (referred to as eproxy) saves companies substantial dollars.
From this, thousands of companies of all capitalizations, have downgraded or totally eliminated the stand-alone “glossy marketing” annual report and evolved to a “10-K Wrap,” which is simply the black and white printing of their SEC 10-K bound inside a full-color branded front and back cover.
A casualty of Notice and Access has been the marketing opportunity the printed annual report can literally deliver. This opportunity is particularly poignant when considering that 47% of investors report they still prefer hardcopy annual reports. This 47% is an incredible opportunity to creatively expand the investor relations content narrative beyond the raw year-end numbers. Clever, growth-focused companies have found a balance between keeping within an intelligent “Notice and Access” budget without forfeiting the marketing presence of a well-designed annual report.
The Perfect Annual Report is an intelligent value
One company that has obviously found this balance is Energy XXI, an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company. A non-calendar year reporting NASDAQ-listed company, Energy XXI recently released their 2014 printed annual report, delivering not only the required 10-K file, but a beautifully published book that visually presents their company’s vitality and voice.
As shown in this video, the production value is superb: full color, full-bleed cover stock followed by nine pages of financial results summary, CEO letter and easy to read graphics of key growth metrics… all in full color. The remaining 10-K portion is beautifully typeset and printed black on an opaque white stock. For extra presence and “zing,” the book is fine-finished with a perfected bound spine that – along with isolated graphic elements on the front cover – has a “spot varnish.”
Certainly, there is no “best practice” for an annual report. Each company must decide for themselves what they need the piece to do, in context to audience, to delivery and to overall cost. Energy XXI set their strategy: fortunately for us, the intelligent value of our print services matched which allowed them to design and publish an end product we are all proud of.
Intelligent value for annual reports is the correct balance of quality, quantity and cost. Please visit this page (click here) to audit your 2013 annual report to budget for your 2014 annual report.
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