Corporate Eye

What Makes for Effective Investor Relations Sites? Part 20: Annual Reports – Make Them Easy for Investors to Find

For investors seeking information about a company, probably the single best source is that company’s annual report to shareholders. The annual report is an opportunity for companies to tell their story in detail to investors every year, combining a message from the Chairman and management with comprehensive financial information. So it makes sense to feature the report prominently on the investor relations web sites of companies.

Yet what I see on the web varies widely as it relates to a company’s annual report. Some companies give prominent display to their annual reports, with large graphics or prominent links to the document. Others bury the report among all other governmental filings. This is further compounded by the fact that some companies elect to give their reports a glossy finish, while others treat it as another bureaucratic form to be filled out. Finally, there are a number of ways that annual reports can be displayed on the web. So it almost goes without saying that one solution will not fit all companies.

With that as a lead-in, what I will try to do over the course of the next few segments of this series is to highlight what I think are some of the more effective methods companies use to highlight their reports. This first piece will simply look at best ways to make sure investors can find your annual report. Here are a few examples:

AngloAmerican Annual Report

The mining company Anglo American takes a front and center approach to featuring its annual report with a bold visual and link in the middle of the page.

EADS Annual Report

The defense contractor EADS takes a comprehensive approach to featuring its annual report, providing both a word link in the middle of the page and a graphic link on the bottom.

The approaches of these two sites are better than you see in many other sites which take a more general approach, simply placing a generally named text link in the page menu appearing on either the left or right hand side of the page. If you want to feature your annual report – and I suggest that it is a good thing to do – effective web site design means that you create a spot where investors can easily find the link to the report.

In this series:
Previous post: Help your most frequent visitors
Next post: Annual Reports II

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John Palizza

John recently retired as a Lecturer in Management at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Management, where he taught investor relations. Prior to that, John was in charge of investor relations for Sysco Corporation and Walgreen Co. He holds a MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a law degree from Loyola University of Chicago. You can learn more about John’s thinking about investor relations at his blog, Investor Relations Musings.