The making of a clear, credible and informative annual report, like marketing projects, begins with a frank dialogue between senior management and its designer/writer advocates. This group forms a solid conceptual foundation on which a business or nonprofit institution can build their overall document.

The creative team relies on management to articulate policy and explain factors that affect performance. The team may also convey a vision of the future. Addressing these major issues early leads to editorial and graphic concepts that meet budget and schedule constraints. This enables the report to take shape in a rational process.

Access, candor and careful listening are needed as various tough questions are considered. How is the organization thought of by its constituencies? Are those perceptions accurate or not? What impression should readers come away with?