An Infographic in your Earnings Release?
October 8, 2014
In the age of mass consumption, viral marketing and ever-shorter attention spans, it shouldn’t be surprising that infographics have emerged as a leading communications tool. Almost every query or topic has an associated infographic, from plot synopses of popular television shows to the latest Ebola statistics.
The rise of the infographic has culminated in a new way of sharing data. It is a seamless synergy of design, writing and data that has not only proven to be an effective educational tool, but a popular one. Google searches for infographics rose 800% between 2010 and 2012. The ability to reach and attract such a wide audience has led to it being used as a corporate communications tool for branding, marketing and other business functions.
The use of infographics in IR content has expanded greatly in recent years, as its inherent advantages have made it the ideal tool for IR content. Numerous Fortune 500 companies including Facebook, Nestle and HP have released earnings through the use of infographics.
Infographics are particularly compatible in function and purpose with investor relations (IR) communications products. The generation of quality, relevant IR content relies on the principle of creating a compelling narrative that highlights a core message derived from an extensive amount of data. This, in essence, is the function of an infographic.
As the popularity of infographics continues to rise, it is imperative for content managers and producers to know what to look for in a good infographic and to understand the elements that make a successful one.
1. The Message
Do I have a clear message to present to investors? This is the most crucial question in the entire process. A strong message is the crux of a compelling narrative and will help retain the reader’s interest. Your story should introduce the topic, explain why it matters, and have a supportable argument in its favor — all demonstrable in the infographic.
2. Data, Data, Data
Now that you have your message in place, the next step is ensuring that you have the data to support it. Why? Because data is the essential building block of all IR content and an IR infographic is no exception. For an infographic that really engages and interests your audience, you will want to support your message and narrative with relevant, timely data.
3. Appropriate Data Presentation
The right representation of the data can be the difference between presenting your message with an engaging, informative infographic and hiding your message in a jumble of charts, diagrams and images that repels or confuses your desired audience. The best infographics tell a story, conveying a central hypothesis and providing some level of analysis, using the minimal necessary amount of tools (including charts, diagrams, graphs, photographs, etc.). To be truly effective, the reader must interact with the infographic beyond taking in a visual display.
This element deals with the relationship between color, typography, graphics, illustrations, and layout. The design elements used should be presented in a way consistent with the tone of the core message. So, if your infographic is related to your upcoming earnings release, you would want something low-key and data-driven. On the other hand, if your infographic is to be part of an op-ed about how your industry is improving the community, then low-key and data driven would be inappropriate — you would want to use visually striking images, perhaps of your recent CSR projects, for instance.
5. Clarity and Balance
It is important to keep in mind that there is a fine balance between enough and too much. Attempts to provide comprehensive data and visually interesting imagery have been known to result in information and sensory overload, with the result being a cluttered and confusing infographic. Simplifying data, culling the information presented, and using minimal imagery are all ways to highlight the core message. An ideal infographic will engage and educate the reader with just the right amount of detail.