Tuesday, February 17, 2009

trying an audio annual report

If a tree falls in the woods when no one's around, does it make a sound? Last September, private foundation communicators had similar questions about whether and how to adapt print annual reports in a social-media age. And now, one foundation's figured out how to make its annual report make a sound, as it were: The German Marshall Fund has just released its 2008 annual report in print and PDF formats, but with an "audio annual report," a podcast compilation from the year's top meetings and events. (You can download the report directly from the website, or through iTunes, where all the Fund's podcasts are available.)

Why audio? GMF is a major convener of important meetings related to transatlantic cooperation, and already makes audio available from them, so policymakers and citizens alike can hear important speakers on issues of North American-European cooperation. Providing an audio "time capsule" of the year seems like a good start towards adapting its annual report in new formats. In addition to showcasing key speakers, your organization may want to offer an annual report audio feature to:

  • review compelling quotes from newsworthies at your press availabilities;

  • share a message from your CEO only available in this format;

  • capture the sounds of groups you served: children, volunteers, consumers, homeless women, marchers in a protest;

  • compile sounds that underscore your activities for the year, from rocket engines to train whistles and more; or

  • play music, poetry or dramatic passages performed at arts events.

  • It's early enough in 2009 for you to start planning how you'll capture audio throughout the year for this project. Share your ideas in the comments.
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