LET’S start this with a big caveat: I do not recommend that you convert your online annual report to Flash or images, but if you are going to do so — as many companies are — then free is the only way to go.
The reason I am bringing this to your attention is to underscore the point that big vendors are ripping off their clients by charging upwards of $5,000 – $10,000 to convert annual reports to so-called “interactive reports” in Flash or images.
It’s also important to recognize that these report formats have such poor usability that they are practically useless to investors — which should go a long way to explaining why you can now get them for free in just five minutes.
To see what you can get gratis and for nothing click on this link, or continue reading to learn how to create your own “interactive annual report” using nothing more than a PDF of your company’s annual report.
Create your own interactive annual report in 5 minutes
It’s easy! Go to www.issuu.com. (Note: You could also go to Docstoc.com and Scribd to do the same thing.) Once there, click on either of the links that say “try out now” or “upload document.” Below is a screenshot of issuu’s homepage with the relevant links circled in red.
Browse to find the PDF file of your company’s annual report on your computer. If you don’t have a copy on your computer, go to your IR website and save a copy of the PDF to your desktop. In the screenshot below, I’ve selected Nordson’s 112-page 2007 annual report. I downloaded this earlier to my computer from their IR homepage.
Next, enter a title and description of your annual report or proxy statement, as I’ve done in the screenshot below. This is the most time-consuming part of the process!
Now enter your email address to be notified when the document is ready.
Click “next” and your annual report will be uploaded to Issuu’s servers. On most corporate networks or a residential DSL connection, this should take less than 30 seconds for the average annual report or proxy statement.
Now wait for the email. Don’t leave your computer because it will only be a couple of minutes and will look something like this:
Click on the button in the email that says “open document.” This will take you to a screen where you must enter a username, password and CAPTCHA code. I recommend that you use your company’s name as your user name. You only have to set up an account once.
Once you’ve done that, you will have immediate access to your new interactive annual report. Free. And all in less than 5 minutes! If you feel like it, you can convert all of your company’s PDF documents to Flash, and there will be no charge. Investor presentations, proxy statements, corporate brochures, you name it, you could do them all.
To provide investors with access to your new online docs, you can link to them from your website or embed them in any web page. Here is a link to the interactive annual report I created of Nordson’s 2007 annual report. Nordson only provides a PDF on its own website.
I’ve embedded the same report in a preview player that issuu provides for you to place in any web page. Click on the front cover or the arrows to turn the pages. You can click on the blue “open publication” button to view a full-size version.
Let me repeat that I’m only writing about this to make the point that the “interactive” or “dynamic” documents that big service providers are selling are not worth a penny and never have been. If you pay for them, you are allowing your company to be ripped off and are not providing any added benefit to your shareholders.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to providing your shareholders with usable online documents. They take time and great skill. And you will most definitely not be able to get them for free.