Currently, I am enrolled in Tiffany Derville’s Advanced PR Writing class at the University of Oregon. This week our class learned how to write shareholder letters. It became particularly interesting to notice differences in the executive’s photographs after reviewing several from Target, Chiquita and Disney.
Each executive had a completely different look to their style of dress and expression. For example, Chiquita’s Chairman and CEO, Fernando Aguirre, looks very accessible with his friendly smile and country-club style of dress in the 2005 annual report. Aguirre makes you feel happy to be a shareholder with his arms down by his side and one hand in his pant pocket. Even his body language gives you the impression that he’ll jump out of the paper and hand over your financial returns on the spot.
Chiquita’s 2005 annual report lends a positive image to the reader with it’s use of bright colors and a happy-go-lucky CEO. Surprisingly, Disney’s annual report gave me a completely different impression than Chiquita. Robert A. Iger’s “paparazzi” photo expresses a boastful attitude; he is almost too good to even acknowledge the shareholders he addresses in the letter. Iger is dressed in a tuxedo on the red carpet looking away from the camera with a smile. I wonder what their public relations team was thinking? Did they have a time crunch at the last minute? Maybe they entirely forgot about a photo and stuck one in before printing? The audience always needs to be addressed in the letter as well as in the author’s picture.
In any case, as public relations practitioners, we need to remember that a picture really is worth a thousand words and evokes emotion. The CEO’s picture can overpower the letter and leave a huge impression even if the shareholder letter is upbeat and friendly.