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May 14, 2021

Corporate reporting: how to communicate in 2021

Project Management
BigPicture Team

The world of corporate reporting is constantly evolving. Last year, the pandemic taught many companies to expect the unexpected and forced them to reevaluate their communication policies and modi operandi. Today, the need for sustainability and openness in organizations is greater than ever, which drives the leading trends in corporate reporting. Here’s what to look for in corporate communication in the new decade.  

Bridging the generational gap in corporate reporting

Which communication channel is the most popular in 2021? According to “The State of Corporate Communications” survey, email is still number one. However, video is very close behind, as it serves well with e-meetings and fosters remote culture. Interestingly, other forms of communication, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, aren’t the first or necessary choice for about 80% of surveyed companies. 

Last year, the sudden spike in remote work has made internal communication a priority. Experts predict that the importance placed on this discipline will continue to grow, and the role of the communication team will be pivotal for executive-level decisions. All in all, it’s their job to keep the messages and the tone of voice consistent across contexts and channels.

Consistency is only a part of success. With a wave of young employees and consumers, companies must adapt their communication standards to the new habits of the younger generation. What once was regarded as a niche fad, like TikTok in its early days, now can be viewed as an effective medium to reach wide audiences. That’s why more and more organizations prefer videos over newsletters. Interestingly, it makes more sense, as up to 65% of the population tend to be more visual learners. Presenting information instead of just sending it makes a more lasting impact. The emphasis on content creation will grow more profoundly, as organizations need to find effective ways to engage their remote workers. Some believe that 2021 will be a breakthrough year for corporate podcasts and more in-depth corporate storytelling. 

Before the pandemic, diversification of communication channels was common. Every company has a corporate mail, internal communicators like Slack or MS Teams, cloud technology, and a planning platform (for calendar and video calls) from tech giants like Google or Microsoft. Some experts predict that the growing digitalization of the workplaces will shift the focus onto bringing all the communication channels into an all-in-one tool. Organizations will be creating strategies for using such a tool to deliver up-to-date services with news, culture, values, chat, etc., to create the best “employee experience.”

“Soft” and “Hard” communication

Speaking of values, let’s look at the importance of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues. In Harvard’s and PWC’s survey, 92% of questioned investors agreed that problems, such as climate change, diversity, and board effectiveness, have a tangible and quantifiable impact. Besides, the author of this research mentioned other aspects that heightened the significance of these values. More than 80% of the survey respondents agreed that companies had not considered environmental and social issues as core to their business for far too long, and generating sustainable returns over time requires a sharper focus on ESG factors.

This survey took place in 2016, and since then, the demand for companies focusing on ESG issues has grown even more. In 2019, another Harvard article stated that investors’ demand for more detailed, substantive information from this area would increase further. The author of this study claims that environmental practices, social policies, and corporate governance represent both risks and business opportunities that can substantially impact a company’s financial performance.

In 2020, some experts predicted that the COVID pandemic would shift the balance again, purely based on financial data. Instead, the focus on social needs, health, safety, environment, inequity, and injustice has increased. 

However, communication gets tricky with soft, culture-related issues. People responsible for corporate communication must feel and learn about current social and consumer trends, as an increasing number of people tend to identify with brands more and more. This also relates to candidates on the job market. When an organization creates and communicates a diverse, tolerant, open workplace environment, it attracts people for who such things matter. 

Also, these non-financial elements heavily rely on data. For example, Hewlett-Packard has a dedicated recycling program to reclaim certain metals and other materials to reuse in production. Retail stores and fast food joints want to shorten the supply chain and buy more from local suppliers to reduce CO2 emissions. If these programs are successful, companies can include the numbers in reports and show how their initiatives influenced their business. 

Less social-oriented are roadmaps. They are a great solution to visually present an organization’s vision of the future and its commitment to expanding its business instead of just providing an ad hoc solution. Such plans also rely heavily on data to estimate what features the company can create and the approximate time they will be available to customers.

Whatever an organization needs to communicate, it needs to be based on data. The business landscape of today demands a new type of reporting. It must be visually pleasing, respond to daily needs, present a broader perspective and social awareness. With proper tools and attitude, every manager can present their goals, vision, and achievements in a new, more engaging, and exciting way.