Tools and techniques
Primary audience research
We have close relationships with many of the UK's top advisers, analysts and institutional investors.
We talk to these sources on a regular basis to keep abreast of industry, sector and market movements.
Narrative and structure methodology
To analyse how clearly and concisely a company is communicating.
Strategic value analysis
Audience response analysis to previous communications; how they've been received, how they've been used, what's been successful, what hasn't.
- Online analytics - we benchmark our work against previous statistics
- Tracking online sentiment and earwigging the conversations taking place about our clients' businesses. We use social monitoring analytics to track the success of key messages communicated through all sorts of media at all times of the year.
We produce ongoing research surveys and keep a close eye on the latest trends and ideas that shape the world we live in.
These findings and insights are then converted into meaningful useful data that enhances our work.
Our regular research programmes include:
Are companies that produce an online annual report investing in a stronger, deeper relationship with the shareholders or are they just spending money for the sake of it? Our research can help shed light on this subject.
of FTSE 100 companies produce both a printed and an HTML online report and accounts. That’s a 17% increase on last year.
of FTSE 250 companies produce both a printed and an HTML online report and accounts. That’s a 26% increase on last year. However, 50% of them are wasting their online investment.
of FTSE 500 companies produce both a printed and digital report (more than just a pdf). That’s a 38% increase on the previous year.
of shareholders say they are more likely to better understand an organisation by looking at their online annual report
This survey benchmarks FTSE 350 company standards in corporate reporting measured against the ASB framework.
FTSE 100 companies have improved their standards in corporate reporting which has not been the case for the FTSE 250
The standard in corporate reporting was disappointing for those sectors that have suffered the most from the recession
Across the FTSE 350 there is still poor evidence of companies communicating with their shareholders on key issues such as value drivers, strategic thinking and strategic capability.
Although most companies have improved their communication on risks and uncertainties, few companies clearly explain how this links with their strategy.
The majority of companies do not treat sustainability as an integral part to the strategy of the business
There are missed opportunities with the majority of online annual reports. Few companies make full use of the medium and the potential for enhanced communication with report users
We regularly produce discussion papers on topics raised both by our clients and in response to market developments. We often publish these papers with a point of view in the hope that they spark conversations and those involved gain a deeper understanding of the issues covered.
These days, a brand's first job is to be interesting. And for most brands, being interesting means new ideas, new things to say and new ways to say it. Most enlightened communicators would agree the best way to be interesting is with an idea – often based on an insight about the audience.
Being original and relevant
Creativity in business communications is never 'one-way'. It's about a dialogue and must therefore have a strong understanding and appreciation of the intended audience. It must not only be mindful of what you, the business, need to communicate, but also what the audience – the potential customer or investor – needs to know. Somewhere between those two needs is the persuasive magic of creative business communication.
Meeting the challenges of sustainable corporate reporting
There is growing recognition that stand-alone Corporate Responsibility/Sustainability Reports are more for the wider range of stakeholders - employees, NGOs, local communities, partners, suppliers - than for investors who want both a very clear understanding of how sustainability fits into the pattern of longer-term value creation and a basis to compare that company against other possible target investments.
Does size really matter? The demand for simple corporate narrative
The problem is that companies are under the illusion that they are producing ever better communications. This is simply not true. Companies have become used to providing a lot of data but, in consequence, no meaningful information: the real story is buried. And ticked boxes do not create understanding. The momentum is for a change toward straightforward explanations and a clear narrative, a story, which tells investors, the market, and the world beyond what is happening. The mood is one where bold, clear, short corporate reports will stand out and gain competitive advantage.
Corporate Governance. Making the 'Middle' more central.
You have probably heard design agencies referring to an Annual Report as having a front, middle and back. Research shows that this generic and siloed approach to investor communication makes annual reports disjointed and suggests that governance is an academic exercise, divorced from the real running of the business.