“The growth
ring of Witualna Polska’s EBITDA core does not give in, in terms of width, to
the first two years of the now expiring three-year term of the current
management board” – this is the first sentence of the annual report of
Wirtualna Polska Capital Group.

entire letter of the management board president, Jacek Świderski, opening the
2016 report, is written in a light-hearted, witty tone, encountered in magazine
columns rather than in reports of multi-million corporations. In addition to
matters related to the company itself, the text also touches upon areas like
technological and social changes in the world. WP president also refers to the
plague of fake news and post-truth, as well as the new role that the media need
to assume today.


reports are frequently depicted as “prudent PR” practices. Company
representatives say positive things only “not to scare” anyone, they avoid
sharper phrases, because “this is not appropriate on this position”, and the
entire text of the communication is built upon the “language of benefits.”

There are
two sides of this approach. By formulating a shallow, colourless communication,
the company flows with the mainstream and stands out with nothing. Being
average is safe. This is why reports are written in this way – they are
predictable and boring.

result of this approach is that many such statements, either for the press or
for investors, say absolutely nothing. Whether or not the company is undergoing
“dynamic development” or “is conquering subsequent market segments” may equally
well be read in the results table.


paradox of the WP annual report is that the company, by publishing a bold, or
even avant-garde, if you will, opening letter from the president, risks absolutely
nothing. Results which matter to the investors are presented in the tables and
speak for themselves. The President shows he is a man of character and
independent opinion.

research by Albert Mehrabian stresses the importance of non-verbal
communication in human relations. It is about evaluating the credibility of
attitude, the tone of voice, simply speaking, the form which determines the
attractiveness of the message. It is true that the lectures of one of Polish
best-known professors, Jerzy Bralczyk, attract massive audiences and professor
Bralczyk himself is often invited to speak at events because he knows how to
communicate in an attractive form. Therefore, he is one of few linguists
regularly heard at business events.


In his
famous book, Jack Trout, a branding guru, wrote “differentiate or die”. It is
important to evoke emotions in the audience and build loyalty. Investor
relations are not different in this context, which is notoriously forgotten.

creative form of an annual report, with carefully designed graphics, dynamic
language and, obviously, a well-prepared presentation, support building good
relations. They present the company not as a set of heartless tables and empty
speech of the management board but as an organization with a vision and
purpose, run by leaders and people of character. Some people have already
grasped it long ago. Annual reports in an interesting, graphically attractive
form may even be found on Pinterest.

Steve Ballmer started his meeting with Microsoft investors, he shouted, danced
and encouraged the crowd to cheer the company. For years Steve Jobs’ trademark was
a black turtleneck and blue jeans. At the end of each speech, before presenting
the most revolutionary product, the audience could hear the iconic “one more

Such behaviours
are not something we can see in the Polish investor relations culture. They are
characteristic, witty in a way, meeting with them was something to remember.
Some Polish investor relations “specialists” found the WP letter “clown
behaviour”. If they are experts in building such relations for their customers,
maybe we should browse their reports and draw our own conclusions?