Assessing creative trends in results reporting | Brunswick Group

Assessing creative trends in results reporting

Listed businesses create a wide range of creative content to communicate their results. James Williamson assesses current trends and highlights across the FTSE 100.

There are some things that UK listed companies are obliged to do when reporting their corporate performance at the half and full year. An RNS is mandatory, and a results presentation for analysts is generally expected. Beyond that, much comes down to the discretion of individual investor relations and communications teams. The types of creative assets produced to publicise results content continually evolves, and the pandemic has ushered in new innovations.

To help shine a light on best-practice and new trends, we assessed what every company in the FTSE 100 index produced to coincide with their results during the first six months of 2022. This covers both the corporate website and LinkedIn, the most popular social platform for IR-related communications.

Results day is a high-profile time for any business; a moment in the spotlight when there will be an additional level of scrutiny that extends beyond the headline numbers being reported. It’s therefore essential that the creative collateral produced is a best-in-class manifestation of the brand for any listed business. Beyond institutional investors, there are a wide variety of stakeholder groups who have an interest in understanding how a business is performing, including employees, customers, and suppliers. Retail investors are another diverse and important audience, with a growing influence and their own particular communication requirements. Not everyone is equipped with the relevant financial training, or the patience, to analyse an earnings release. Creative assets therefore have an important role to play in presenting key numbers and messages in a way which clearly communicates the headline story of the results in an engaging and easily digestible manner.

There’s no one-size-fits all approach to results communications, but it is possible to break things down into five broad areas and we’ve picked some of our favourite examples within each category.


1. Webcasting

A live webcast of the results presentation (accompanied by an archived post-event recording) is a ubiquitous element of results day communications. However, it’s interesting to note that 12% of the companies we looked at fail to feature any form of webcast recording on their website. Of the remaining 88% of companies who do webcast, 40% take a basic audio-only approach with synchronised slides, and the remaining 48% feature the management team in vision.

Video webcasting is itself a broad category, with several different approaches being taken. The most common technique, which will be familiar to most readers, remains a video recording of the in-person analyst presentation with accompanying synchronised slides. Perhaps spurred by pandemic restrictions that prevented ‘real life’ meetings, many companies now go beyond this approach, adopting several refreshing innovations. For example, many businesses now pre-record their management presentations prior to the announcement, with the dual benefit of freeing up management time on results day, while also taking advantage of additional pre-production time to add engaging animated graphics. A good exponent of this approach is Standard Chartered; its webcast features high quality graphics, which are integrated into the same screen as the speaker to complement the points being made. The talking-heads presentations are also punctuated by short, high-quality supporting films. Severn Trent also take an interesting approach to their webcast, with the CEO, Liv Garfield, presenting her sections from various operational facilities. This provides an additional level of visual engagement for the viewer while also helping to showcase key company assets. Pre-recording results days presentations does not come at the expense of live interaction with analysts, but the way that live Q&A from the analyst audience is now integrated into webcasts varies.

Standard Chartered Results

Standard Chartered – 2022 Half Year Results presentation

Severn Trent (1)

Severn Trent – 2022 Full Year Results webcast

The impact of the ‘Zoom revolution’ is once again in evidence here, with some companies such as Croda International using the platform to take analyst questions delivered via live video feed from the participant’s office. It’s worth noting that technical challenges with this approach mean it’s currently impossible to feature incoming video within a traditional webcasting platform leading to issues with slide integration.

One final observation is that most companies fail to take the opportunity to add additional branded content into their results webcast presentations, which is something of a shame when there is a captivated audience of interested observers. If you have a short brand or purpose film, why not play it out during the countdown to the management teams’ presentations?


2. Video approach 1: CEO video

Whether the results are good or bad, announcement day is a key moment when CEOs must take ownership of business performance. It’s therefore somewhat surprising that only 26% of FTSE CEOs record bespoke video content for release on the morning of results. While some might argue that the availability of a results presentation webcast covers this base, a quick summation of the results highlights gives stakeholders with a shorter attention span (or a less forensic financial interest) a bite-sized overview of the highlights. Seeing the whites-of-the-eyes and hearing straight-from-the-horse’s mouth is a great way to instil confidence in viewers around the leadership of the business and the strategic direction being pursued.

When it comes to format, by far the most common approach is a CEO piece-to-camera delivered straight down the camera lens (22% of FTSE businesses create this kind of content). However, within this there is a huge variety in terms of overall production quality. Good examples include illustrative b-roll of company operations and on-screen graphics to reinforce key facts and figures. Anglo American is a best-practice example, producing a variety of polished thematic clips recorded by both the CEO and CFO, all interspersed with clear graphics and high-quality company footage. This content is seeded around the website and social channels, creating a drumbeat of content inviting stakeholders, including media and employees, to explore the results day material in more detail.

Anglo American – 2022 Half Year Results Video Content (1)

Anglo American – 2022 Half Year Results video content

In contrast, some examples consist of little more than a Zoom-style recording of the CEO reluctantly delivering a pre-prepared script, which provides little engagement for the viewer and feels like a missed-opportunity.

The internally produced interview format, consisting of a two-way conversation between an interviewer and the CEO and CFO, once a staple of results day communications, has now largely been retired by FTSE 100 companies. The CEO piece-to-camera is quicker to record and edit resulting in a lighter burden for the CEO and Comms team during the hectic run-in to results when time is at a premium, stress levels are high, and re-recording is unlikely to be a possibility. However, hearing the unfiltered and unscripted words of a CEO in a conversational mode can provide a more authentic piece of content for the viewer. Aviva provides a good example of a polished interview, in which the CEO, Amanda Blanc, delivers a composed and warm performance, giving an excellent results overview and strategy update which is clearly produced with both internal and external audiences in mind.

Aviva Results

Aviva – 2022 Half Year Results interview format

Other companies leverage CEO results-day media appearances on financial television programmes, embedding the recordings on their own website or LinkedIn page. This content provides a level of external validation and kudos that internally produced content can’t compete with, and if the interview has gone well, sharing it across owned channels seems like an obvious and easy thing to do.

While not video content, Lloyds Banking Group’s CEO, Charlie Nunn, takes an interesting approach to results-day communication with the publication of a personal blog post, in which he assesses performance and reflects on how it relates to the Bank’s wider strategy. It’s relatively short and might be something we see more of from other CEOs in the future, especially in an era when the concept of Connected Leadership is of ever-increasing importance.


3. Video approach 2: Results animation

A smaller proportion of FTSE 100 companies (8%) produce short, animated films that forego on-camera contributions from the management team in favour of bold graphics and kinetic text treatments that capture the results highlights. This content generally provides an on-brand summary of the key facts and figures, usually combined with some more general strategic performance updates. Invariably underscored with up-tempo music, this content is created with social distribution in-mind, providing a top-level results summary suited for those looking to take a ‘paddle’ in results content rather plunging into a ‘deep dive’. A general observation is that companies creating this kind of content seem to be consumer-facing, already creating a steady stream of social content. Some good examples include NatWest, BAT, and Coca-Cola HBC.


BAT – 2022 Half-Year Results highlights animation

One outlier in this category is Intertek; their year-in-review film is longer (over three minutes) and it’s the only example that employs a voiceover artist to narrate a script. This allows the film to pack in a huge amount of information but also means it slightly strays into the territory of a traditional corporate film.


4. Infographics

Looking beyond film content, a graphic factsheet features in the results communication of 12% of FTSE 100 companies. The designers responsible for creating these assets face a tricky task. Not only must they condense a huge volume of financial information into a short summary, but they also need to introduce some narrative signposting to help readers interpret what they see.

At worst, results factsheets become a dense fog of numbers, with figures crammed into every available space on the page. This approach will inevitably overwhelm and confuse the reader. Better examples recognise the impossibility of shrinking the entire investor presentation/results release into a shorter format and instead focus on pulling out the key numbers and accompanying them with a visual device to help guide the reader through the content – clear sub-headings, along with judicious use of imagery and icons is a good way of doing this.

Kingfisher’s results factsheet is a worthy example; while it’s still relatively dense, the data is well-organised and provides an insightful snapshot of performance across various metrics, while also referencing the wider group strategy.

Kingfisher Results Factsheet

Kingfisher – Full Year Results infographic


5. LinkedIn image carousels

Results day LinkedIn posts offer companies a chance to communicate their performance to viewers who may only have a passing interest in their results as they scroll down their personal newsfeeds. This means communications teams need to work harder to capture the attention of these eyeballs. Eight FTSE 100 companies create carousel galleries inviting users to interact with the content by clicking through a number of images, each carefully designed and on-brand, featuring key statistics, numbers and pictures.  St James’ Place, Rolls-Royce and Mondi are all good examples of this approach, and given the relative simplicity of creating these assets, it’s a trend that seems likely to continue growing in popularity.

Results Day Image Carousel Galleries

Results day image carousel galleries

As noted at the beginning of this article, our research reinforces the view that there is no one-size-fits all solution to creative communication on results day, with FTSE 100 companies taking a wide variety of approaches. Much depends on the profile of a business; closely scrutinised, household names may feel the need to produce more collateral than more niche businesses. Regardless of market-cap or sector, it’s clear the businesses that spend time and energy developing high quality collateral have a much better chance of taking ownership of the narrative around their performance on the all-important results day.