When does the European Union plan to become carbon-neutral? And how many metric tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean each year?
These are a few of the quiz questions included in Covestro’s 2020 digital-only annual report, which aims to use interaction to pull in more viewers from a wider group of stakeholders.
The company, which manufactures polymer products for use in a range of settings, from thermal insulation to coatings and electrical equipment, may not always be viewed as the most exciting business, says Lars Boelke, global media relations lead.
The idea behind the new report is to offer a different image. It begins with a magazine section covering three themes: accelerate, collaborate and innovate. Each section contains an article interspersed with images, videos, graphics and the aforementioned quizzes.
There is also a strong focus on sustainability issues, with the text often referring to the idea of the ‘circular economy’ – where products are designed to be reusable and waste is minimized or cut out entirely.
The start of Covestro's 2020 annual report
While investors remain a key target audience for the report, the company wanted to catch the attention of current and prospective employees, says Boelke. ‘Previously, colleagues would say, It’s not my business to read the annual report,’ he says. ‘But we figured the more interactive we became, the more they would be interested in reading it.’
The report is also ‘for potential employees, especially the younger ones coming from university,’ adds Boelke. Traditionally, graduates in Germany have had a choice of companies to choose from after finishing their studies, so companies need to find ways to stand out from the crowd, he explains: ‘We want to show we are open to digitalization and new ideas.’
Covestro appears to be achieving its aims, according to a mini-survey embedded in the report. In the first month of publication, the largest audience was employees (51 percent of users), followed by investors and analysts (27 percent) and customers and suppliers (7 percent).
In another shift, this year Covestro decided to ditch its printed report and have an online-only version for the first time. Printed reports are not only expensive, but also lack the interactivity the company wanted to provide, says Boelke.
To make the most of the material and encourage return visits, Covestro is using social media to share content from the report. ‘In the weeks before we were allowed to release the figures, we started a social media campaign to boost interest in the upcoming report and broaden the target group approach,’ says Boelke.
The tweets followed the quizzy theme of posing questions – for example, one said: ‘We are using three clean alternatives to partially replace crude oil in plastics production. Can you guess which ones?’
‘And now the report is out, we still have a social media strategy in place,’ says Boelke. ‘We have a focus week or month [on areas like] plastics in the ocean and raw materials, and we redirect to the annual report.’
Covestro's Twitter account has also highlighted other annual-report content, such as a video of finance chief Thomas Toepfer:
One month after publication, the report had garnered nearly 10,000 visitors and around 20,000 page views, according to data supplied by nexxar, a design firm that worked with Coverstro on the report. The number of visits represents an 18 percent rise on the previous year’s report.
‘One of the main reasons for this increase is the rising number of visits from social media channels,’ says Eloy Barrantes, CEO of nexxar.