19 JULY 1957, Page 19

The Company Report

By A. N. MARLBOROUGH It is at last being realised by a few more enlightened company chairmen that a well- presented company report has good propaganda value regarding the general public or customers and also as to fostering good public relations. The presentation of company accounts does, by necessity, follow orthodox lines, which are readily understandable by the expert, but make heavy weather with the laymen.

Publishers today are skilled in presenting a most colourful report, with pictures, diagrams, graphs, boxed tables and other features to catch the eye when they are given the opportunity. But how often does this happen? It has become a habit (and therefore a lazy one) for the majority of company chairmen to hand out the usual boring set of figures together with an abbreviated or long-winded review of the company's affairs to their advertising agents, who in turn pass it out to the press for publication in full in the principal newspapers, or in part (hopelessly mutilated) to the smaller fry who gather round to pick up the crumbs. What a waste of money and time—what a farce it all is! With a little more thought and effort so much more value could be obtained by the com- pany, enlightenment could be given to the stock- holder, and the advertising agent might fairly earn his commission.

It has been known for a shareholder to get up and ask the chairman at an AGM what kind of business the company transacted. What a reflec- tion on the Chairman's Report, and for that matter on the shareholder's stockbroker! One begins to wonder also at the mentality of the shareholder; but he had the courage to attend the meeting and ask the question—he must be given marks for that.

Whereas there have been many occasions when no shareholders have been present at an AGM and a member of the press has had the good grace to propose a vote of thanks to the chairman for conducting the meeting, which he has certainly not deserved.

In the last year or so a few companies (large and small) have seen the light, and no doubt encouraged by an enterprising advertising agent and printer have presented their accounts and report in such a manner that it is a delight to the eye, flattering to one's intelligence and altogether a work of art and a document of value to the company and a credit to all concerned. Further- more, this admirable work of art has been re- produced in the press (sometimes with illustra- tions and photographs) to catch the eye of the reading public and in those newspapers best

suited to the company, the greatest value for following blindly the paths. from which it can pull in money spent, instead of traditional conservative

There is endless scope for a rejuvenation and better presentation of the company report, which has in itself real advertising value. Is it too much to hope that this era has arrived?