Division B - Printed Tools of Public Relations
Category 2 - Annual Report
Michelle Kessinger, Jeanne Ladd, Costa DeVault

Golden Image Award

Research/Situation Analysis: One out of every five Central Florida adults reads at or below the 5th-grade level. For those individuals, the Adult Literacy League (ALL) offers hope for a better life. Serving more than 4000 clients annually, ALL tutors and provides scholarships for adult learners; trains tutors; provides continuing education; and helps to generate public awareness. Historically, ALL had summarized yearly activity in the form of a nondescript, 3-page laser-printed report, which had little impact and could not be used as a marketing tool. In 2002, as part of a pro bono image campaign donated to ALL, Costa DeVault (CD) upgraded the annual report, creating a practical, attention-grabbing piece that fit in a #10 envelope for easy mailing. Well-received by ALL and its stakeholders, the annual report was “cloned” for the next several years to save time and money and redesigned as a small, 4x6 booklet in 2005. Although that provided a different look, response from ALL and its Board indicated that the #10 size was, ultimately, more practical and cost-effective. So, last year, they asked CD to return to the original format. The dilemma? How to make the “same old, same old” stand out from previous pieces. One additional challenge: As in years past, there was still no budget for this critical PR tool.

Objectives: To: 1) communicate the message that, while ‘05 was a good year for ALL, the problem of illiteracy is growing, and the organization still faces considerable challenges; 2) create a “new look” for the report, while returning to the previous #10 format; 3) produce a piece that was flexible enough to double as a marketing tool to help recruit adult learners and volunteers, attract more tutors and increase public awareness; 4) present ALL’s story through the eyes of volunteers and adult learners who are vital to the organization’s success; 5) deliver maximum impact on a minimum budget, creating a piece that didn’t look “too expensive.”

Implementation: Addressing budget issues first, we secured pro bono support from a local printer. That – coupled with our own donation of writing and design – put the annual report immediately “in the black.” We themed the annual report “Open Books. Open Doors.” – which literally and figuratively addressed a key issue: that reading opens doors of opportunity. To ensure that the piece could be used for multiple purposes, we created a modular system consisting of: the main annual report, which addressed ALL’s accomplishments and financial status in fiscal 2005; a separate mini-folder, which could house a variety of pieces, including ALL’s marketing brochure; and 4 inserts designed as flash cards, featuring powerful testimonials from adult-learner “success stories,” who credit ALL for changing their lives. The back of the card included a photo and brief bio, while the front of the card showcased key words (“growth,” “hope,” “success” and “opportunity”), which symbolized what ALL means to its learners. To create an attention-grabbing piece that didn’t look “too expensive,” CD used a simple two-color palette (black and yellow); designed the piece to fit into a #10 envelope; and relied on simple but powerful typography to “carry the day.” Interspersed throughout the piece were messages from tutors and students – adding a vital “human touch” and taking the piece beyond assets and liabilities and straight to the heart of the organization. The annual report was distributed to ALL constituents, including volunteers, board members, staff and community leaders.

Evaluation: Cost-effective, practical and commanding, the annual report met all objectives – providing ALL with a highly versatile communication tool. According to Joyce Whidden, ALL’s executive director, it was an integral part of an awareness effort that generated a 15% increase in the number of students served, a 24% increase in the number of English language literacy students, a 25% increase in the number of hours of instruction provided and a 7% increase in revenue. According to Whidden: “The annual report is so beautiful, we were all blown away!” The piece garnered attention from the Vice President of ProLiteracy Worldwide, who said the piece was “professional without being slick; combines warm fuzzies with facts; and is easy and interesting to read.” Similar accolades came in from other literacy coalitions (“beautiful, powerful and inspiring”) and board members (“it’s absolutely stunning, with a theme that’s strong, clear and moving – and a visual presentation that’s absolutely beautiful”).

Budget: ALL had no budget dollars allocated for the annual report. With donated writing, design, photography and printing valued at nearly $15,000, the piece proved to be an enormous value and a highly successful PR tool.