Verizon flips the script on annual reports with engaging content

"One of the chief objectives was to have people say, 'I didn't know Verizon did that,'" says Verizon director of corporate communications Bob Varettoni.

BASKING RIDGE, NJ: Annual reports are typically an exhaustive effort involving a company’s departments of finance, executive speechwriting, legal, corporate governance, and several other groups—and many aren’t exactly reader-friendly.

"More people read the annual report before it’s published than after it’s published," said Bob Varettoni, director of corporate communications at Verizon.

The telecommunications company has tried to change that result in the past two years by taking a video-first approach it hopes is hooking more viewers and boosting interactivity.  

"We led with video because we wanted to tell a story and have people visualize the tech company Verizon has become," Varettoni said. "One of the chief objectives was to have people say, ‘I didn’t know Verizon did that.’"

One video features Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam discussing how Verizon is improving its network in a video called A Better Future for Everyone.

Verizon is using video to make a quick impact and attract viewers to read the report’s centerpiece, McAdam’s letter. It sums up four key themes from the missive in four videos.

Verizon started filming interviews of McAdam for the report last year, when it also featured Independent Lead Director Frances Keeth, the former EVP of Royal Dutch Shell, speaking about Verizon’s corporate governance policies. This year’s iteration features Clarence Otis Jr., chair of the board’s human resources committee and CEO of Darden Restaurants, talking about Verizon’s executive compensation policies.

The company filmed the videos in its in-house studio. Addison, a creative agency based in New York, supported the effort. The agency also worked on GE’s annual report this year.

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