While reporting takes an investment of time, effort and attention to detail, they are an important part of demonstrating the value of a communications program. And reports are important for helping your clients show that value to other departments – finance or sales for example – or the executives that approve the marketing and PR budget.
But how can you make sure that these reports have a positive impact with your clients? While there are many formats, styles and levels of detail that can be applied to a report, the key is to find out what works best for your client, while making sure that the most important points are captured and presented well.
Here are five tips for year-end reports:
1. Plan ahead
Determine ahead of time what the key metrics are to track and report on for the year. If you do monthly or quarterly reporting for your clients, the end-of-year report may simply follow the same pattern, but may go into more depth and provide a broader view of the year. It’s important to discuss what the key measurements will be with all stakeholders so there is agreement on what will be reported on (and why).
2. Get visual
While data points and concise summaries are important, reports that get the best response often have a strong graphical element to help tell the story. This is especially important for executives that want to quickly scan the results to get an at-a-glance view of the yearly results. Charts and graphs help to show the impact of certain figures, and adding photos (for example, of an executive speaking at a conference) help to highlight key achievements more than simple text on a page. At LEWIS, our creative and design teams are doing some interesting things with digital visuals and video, so if you want to present your results in a new and dynamic way, we can definitely help with this.
3. Sweat the details
When listing data points, be prepared to show the “source data” to back up any numbers in your report. For example, if you had ten media placements in top-tier publications, be ready to show what those placements were. Also, it is important to check and re-check your numbers so that everything is 100% accurate and consistent.
4. Add insights
Go beyond simply listing the results and highlights and provide some insights that the first-time reader would not take away from the report. Was there a surprising new source that generated the most press coverage this year? How did the results this year compare to last year, or the last 3 years? What new trends are you seeing?
5. Present the report
Rather than just sending the report in over email, set up a time with the client to present the report and walk through the findings. This is your opportunity to call out some key points and give important background and context that can make a difference in how the report is received. Presenting the results also provides your client with more information that can be helpful to them if they need to discuss it with someone else within their company. If possible, find out if your client contact is going to a) Present PR results to senior executives internally, or b) Share the annual PR results report document widely among internal audiences. That may change the look and feel of the report, which template should be used, the length of the report and whether a particular campaign should be highlighted, etc.
While reporting takes time and effort, it is a great way to show the impact of a communications program and help inform your strategy for the coming year.
For more practical tips, read other LEWIS blog posts!