Division B - Printed Tools of Public Relations
Category 2 - Annual Report
A Place Of Hope …
Heather Biddulph, Simone Kassianides, Cindy Marfori

Award of Distinction
Judges' Award

Research/Situation Analysis: For domestic violence (DV) victims, Harbor House – Orange County’s Center Against Domestic Violence – offers protection, empowerment and safety. Sheltering more than 1,000 women and children each year, counseling more than 900 survivors, and assisting with more than 4,000 court injunctions – Harbor House (HH) is the only facility in Orange County that provides these life-saving services. But, in recent years, cuts in funding prevented HH from effectively communicating its message of assistance and prevention. Meanwhile, DV occurrences continued at alarming rates. Statistics indicate one in four adults in intimate partner relationships will be abused. Statewide, Orange County ranked second for DV-related murders and HH was forced to turn away more than 1,000 survivors seeking shelter. In addition to empowering survivors to reclaim their lives, HH educates the community in hopes of preventing DV and generating awareness.
HH has never distributed a formal year-end summary. (In 2005, HH created one; however, it was poorly written and designed, so it chose not to distribute the report.) In 2006, as part of a strategic communications plan, HH hoped to create a professional annual report that people would want to read; however, no funds had been set aside for this tool. Costa DeVault (CD) agreed to produce HH’s annual report pro bono. Prior to creating the report, CD interviewed HH staff to make strategic content recommendations. In addition, we interviewed a survivor to communicate an emotional, real-life situation.

Objectives: To 1) create a piece that could double as a year-round marketing tool and an annual report; 2) communicate key messages identified in the marketing plan targeting decision makers, donors and media; 3) design a piece that conveyed the seriousness of the subject matter in an inviting manner; and 4) generate awareness that would increase in-kind donations and volunteers by at least 50%.

Implementation: Before beginning the annual report, we had to figure out how to produce it on a shoe-string budget. After approaching a commercial printer to assist with production, CD developed an attention-grabbing, inviting piece that conveyed a serious message. We chose a refreshing color palette – complementing the yellow and purple from HH’s logo with green, orange and blue accents. Bright, warm illustrations contrasted the dramatic, serious black and white photos – which conveyed the topic’s serious nature. Dreamlike imagery painted a picture of a better life.
The annual report opened to a letter from the executive director and the Board president, which explained the need for community unity and support. Each subsequent headline – and corresponding article – reinforced HH as a place to go for hope, healing, peace, and a new start. Based on our discussions with staff and informal research, we concluded the community didn’t realize the vast array of services HH offers. As a result, the first article gave readers an overview of HH’s services and statistics about the number of people served the previous year. In the second article, KB Home’s donation of a second shelter was featured. This article also revealed HH’s long-term site plans and explained the need for additional financial support from community partners. Next, survivor Ann Marie recounted her domestic violence experience and explained how HH had saved her many times and was always willing to stand by her. Finally, the report closed with financial information and a list of contributors. The annual report was distributed to community leaders, politicians, volunteers and donors (both current and potential).

Evaluation: Cost-effective and commanding, the annual report met all the objectives. HH received positive feedback about the design of the report – specifically the balance between the serious subject matter and the inspirational, approachable design. The content incorporated the key messages identified in the communications plan. By using the piece as a marketing tool as well as an annual report, Harbor House was able expand its reach – sharing its message with a broad, influential audience. The annual report was an integral component of a campaign that significantly increased awareness within the community, as illustrated by additional volunteer hours logged (123% increase) and in-kind donations (162% increase). To date, FY 2006-2007 in-kind donations are valued at more than $250,000 – compared to just $94,000 in all of FY 2005-2006. In the words of HH’s Development Director, “These numbers are incredible. I hope everyone at Costa DeVault truly knows what a difference you’ve made.”

Budget: HH did not budget anything for the creation of an annual report. CD donated all its creative, writing and design services – totaling more than $7,500 of pro bono work. HH did, however, have a modest printing budget. Therefore, CD secured significantly reduced printing on behalf of HH – less than $2,000 for 1,000 copies of the 10-page, four-color annual report. Raising awareness about domestic violence and setting a new standard for Harbor House’s image – at less than a quarter the market rate – the annual report proved to be an enormous value and a highly successful marketing tool.