Sharing Entries For Awards-Part Three, The Annual Report

Many years ago, my good friend Jeff Herman gave me a cassette–yes, that’s how many years ago it was–by Marketing Mike and the Suits. The most memorable song was The Annual Report.

WARNING: The lyrics to the song contain adult language.

But since most readers are adults and have some knowledge of the work and effort that’s required to write, edit, print and distribute an annual report, I can say I always recall this song during the first quarter of each new year as I prepare the report on the previous 12 months.

So as we continue sharing the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America’s entries in the National President’s Marketing Awards, a marketing and communications contest held by the National Council of the BSA, here’s our entry for the 2010 Annual Report.

Objectives

The 2010 Annual Report focused on celebrating the outstanding successes that occurred during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Boy Scouts of America. The 100th anniversary celebration was a key driver for many council objectives.

The highlight of the council’s 100th anniversary celebration was ScoutQuest 100, a council-wide encampment that was attended by more than 20,000 Scouts, parents and leaders in Forest Park. It was second only to the National Jamboree in attendance for a single-council centennial event. A tremendous amount of time and resources were devoted to this event. Part of the strategy of the event was to show adult volunteer leaders from all levels of our programs that they could deliver a wide variety of fun and exciting programs with a little effort and planning. The Annual Report attempted to remind readers that the games and activities were fun, but they also had a purpose.

The Annual Report also focuses on informing, motivating and thanking adult volunteer from all levels of the program. It also reports on the accomplishment of many strategic objectives and how they align with the council’s goals and strategic plan. The publication provides a showcase for important programs and activities.

Planning
At the conclusion of ScoutQuest 100, a team of photographers had gathered thousands of high-resolution digital photographs of the event. The vice chairman of the council’s marketing committee thought the quality of the photography was so excellent that it could carry a storyline of all the strategic messages we wished to communicate in our annual reports.

The photography team and the vice chairman spent hours reviewing the library of images to select the photos. In addition to showing the various levels of the programs and the diversity of our membership, they also wanted to show the wide variety of activities that took place during the event. Text was also developed that highlighted strategic plan achievements.

The council invested in a high-speed color copying system in 2010. By printing the publication in-house, we hoped to save time and expenses.

Impact
The council’s Annual Meeting and Recognition Dinner is our largest gathering of Executive Board members and top volunteer leaders. The Annual Report and the recapping of Scouting’s 100th anniversary was a critical element of the program for this event. It provided a succinct review of ScoutQuest 100.

One Executive Board member was so impressed with the cover photograph that he ordered a framed print for his office. This affirmed our concept that large photography and short, tightly-written stories can best communicate Scouting’s outcomes and strengthen the BSA brand.

Lessons Learned
The council’s marketing committee is looking at ways to reuse or repackage the content from future Annual Reports for distribution in digital channels. For instance, if a profile is being written on a Scout or a volunteer, record the interview on video to supplement the text story. We’re looking to make the printed report more interactive through the following:
• Make sure the PDF can be easily read on smartphones.
• Add QR codes that point toward other interesting content, such as media releases on specific subjects or videos
• Develop direct URLs so readers can go directly to website content.
• We also are developing direct URLs so readers can go directly to website content. For instance, http://camping.stlbsa.org will bring the visitor to a landing page on the website that has information on all council camping programs.

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