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A step-change in perception can only happen once you’ve put in the hard yards to change the reality.
Having demonstrated strong leadership in the agri-sector, it was now time that perceptions caught up with the ‘real Ravensdown’.
A double challenge was presented to us. Along with the desire to reset public perceptions of the co-op, their sector leadership drive led them to Integrated Reporting (<IR>) as the natural fit framework for forward thinking reporting. This was to be their first Integrated Report – a journey beset with its own learning curves, hurdles, resourcing, measurement and other challenges.
The briefing and workshops demonstrated to us that their vision and belief systems are passionately held, culturally embedded and fervently articulated. This authenticity can be keenly seen in how they’re driving the business, the strategies they’re implementing and the hi-tech, sustainable products and services they are offering the agri-sector.
To capture the essence of all this in a believable way was to be our greatest challenge, simply compounded by the rigours of the integrated reporting view of the world.
Sometimes we find that the best way to communicate a company’s soul is to just get out of the way and create a clear pathway for their genuine voice to come through.
Sometimes, the answer might be to let other people tell their own stories about you.
But always, it’s channeling the authenticity, carefully identifying and curating the right narrative, crafting the right language and voice, capturing down-to-earth images and applying design and layout techniques that amplify the voices from inside.
In this report, all the above techniques have been used.
Right from the cover, we signaled the reader to expect the unexpected and so began the perception change journey.
The core creative idea of past, present, future underpins everything in this report. It is set up on the front cover and informs the storytelling, design detailing, graphic techniques, image selection and photographic direction right through to the back cover. Past, present, future reflects farming’s tendency to be a family generational legacy – and the natural responsibility farming families feel to do the right thing now for future generations.
The opening four spreads unpack our new story powerfully and succinctly, building on the premise of past, present, future: a rapid evolution to smarter and responsible farming; viewing our collective business in the wider context of feeding the world; and doing the right things for a better New Zealand. The rest of the report was then structured, paced, and content-crafted, to support this clear core proposition. As the report progresses, it moves from big picture positioning to granular evidence, stakeholder perspectives and carefully measured data. The past, present, future backbone provides the ideal framework to track progress on strategies being implemented to achieve longer term goals and aspirations.
To enable the storytelling to cut through undiluted, we removed the compliance section of the report (detailed financials and governance) into a separate document.
Stories come to life, and the sincerity of the storytellers becomes palpable, when caught on video. The addition of an online microsite provided the vehicle, and the voices of leadership and stakeholders leave no doubt that this company is thinking and doing exactly the right thing – for their customers, for their shareholders, for their communities, for the agri-sector, for the environment, for a hungry world, and ultimately, for New Zealand Inc.
If Integrated Reporting (<IR>) is about explaining how a company is creating value for all stakeholders, this report is the epitome of that. Each of the report’s core stories looks through the lens of one of their six core stakeholder groups and exemplifies the real-world implementation of ‘smarter farming’ by Ravensdown.
The goal of shifting perceptions from Ravensdown being a seller of fertiliser to a multi-faceted smarter-farming-enabler is now well under way. In the words of CFO, Sean Connelly, “Often a co-operative in the ag sector can be seen as steady or traditional, however these reports help us show that we are not.”