Celebrate Your Accomplishments – The Importance (and Value) of Telling Your Story


By Krista Noonan, director of communications, CalSTRS

Government communicators are often expected to wear many hats. PIOs are called upon to, for example, facilitate long-range strategic visioning and planning, event logistics, as well as work their magic to manage last minute, “get it out yesterday” type of projects.

The ability to flex and adapt is what makes you, as a PIO, successful as you fulfill your organization’s mission to communicate transparently with your stakeholders and constituents.

However, in the midst of the, at times, frenzied work, it’s more important than ever to preserve what you’re doing by telling your story and summarizing public information milestones. Whether you are a staff of one or if you manage a multiple person department, telling your story and reporting the highlights of your year-end, or even semiannual, accomplishments is more important than ever.

An accomplishments report is your opportunity to communicate a wealth of information, not only about your organization, but also valuable details about the public information function. And by doing so, you will create greater awareness and enlighten your audience on the positive impact your agency is making in the local community.

Each reader – whether a local resident, elected official, business owner, employee or other stakeholder – will peruse your accomplishments report for a different reason And each one will take away something different. That’s why your report doesn’t serve one sole purpose. Instead, it’s a chance to welcome your readers into learning more about your organization’s story and the dedicated public servants behind-the-scenes keeping operations running smoothly.

Your accomplishments report is also an opportune time to highlight all of the work the PIO function manages, which, at times, can be inadvertently overlooked or misperceived due to the vast array of projects you are involved in. Additionally, your accomplishments report helps reinforce the value of a well-executed public information function, which could perhaps serve as a future justification to request additional resources or tools to even further elevate your efforts.

An effective accomplishments report presents the following:

  • Engaging Stories: An accomplishments report that is simply a presentation of facts will not effectively engage your audience; in fact, it might alienate them. That’s why it’s important to use your report as a vehicle to tell the story of your endeavors by laying the groundwork surrounding the history and background, while also celebrating your successes and end results.
  • Clear Infographics and Data: Make sure your data visualizations and infographics are clear and understandable. You can also expand your story by providing comparative insight or additional data sets from previous years.
  • Human Elements: Whenever possible, incorporating a human element in your stories via personalized experiences and/or photos literally puts a face on the valuable work you’re doing and can greatly increase your readers’ interest, engagement and emotional investment.
  • Vision for the Future: An annual report is exactly that, a summary of a year, but this also helps lay the foundation for the next. It’s also a time to illustrate the strategic vision moving forward , which can generate hope, trust, enthusiasm, and a renewed commitment in your audience.

As a final thought, always remember what Keith Quesenberry, a lecturer at the Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins University, said, “We keep rediscovering and have to remind ourselves of the power of stories in a business context. We love stories. PowerPoint ruined that. Bullet points are not a story.”


Examples of award-winning organization annual reports (recipients of CAPIO Awards):

County of Marin – Marin At A Glance – 2016 Annual Report
Inland Empire Utilities Agency – Innovation At Its Best – 2016 Annual Report
Sweetwater Authority – 2017-18 Annual Report


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