Mergers & Acquisitions Demand a Strong Communication Plan
We’ve had more than a front-row seat for merger/acquisition activity in the last six months. The Kinetic team was in the middle of M&A action involving two of our great clients who have hundreds of employees and do business all across the nation.
These companies each pulled the trigger on major deals. We worked closely with leadership teams at both organizations to develop a communication strategy that would meet the needs of their team members, customers, business partners and other stakeholders.
We spent weeks preparing material and coaching leaders for their big announcements. Here are some of the key products and actions we recommended that helped these companies with this very important piece of their M&A. Some of them might work for you if an M&A is in your future.
Public announcements are important. Leaders of the organizations involved should prepare talking points and share the news, providing appropriate details and answering questions. These “town hall meetings” featuring Q&A sessions can be a great way to show your excitement about an acquisition and put it in a positive light – or deliver not-so-good news in a supportive way. Your transparency will be appreciated. Be candid. If you can’t answer a question, just say so and move on. Most employees understand that not all details can be released and will respect your response.
Not all employees can get to a staff meeting. A well-crafted email sent to all employees should cover the same material that you shared at your meetings. Encourage employees to visit their manager if they have questions.
This communication piece is a great way to welcome new employees. This magazine introduces them to their new company and its history, culture, values and leaders. It should include a page or two featuring answers to FAQs the new team members will have.
Special Edition Newsletter
If you produce a regular monthly or quarterly newsletter for your employees, get a special edition into their hands. It will contain information on the deal presented in the familiar newsletter format.
A video message from a company leader, sent in an email and posted on the company intranet, allows you to connect with your team members in a way that a written memo cannot. You control the content and can do as many takes as you like to get your message just right.
New Employee PowerPoint
For new employee orientation sessions that should happen after your deal closes, revise the material you use to reflect the new environment.
Working with your in-house marketing team or an agency like Kinetic, prepare a news release to send to the PR newswires, industry publications, and media outlets. Include contact information so reporters can reach out if they have questions or want to arrange an interview.
Communication with Customers and Key Stakeholders
In emails or phone calls, contact the people you do business with and let them know the news. Don’t let the gossip machine overtake your announcement. Encourage them to stay in touch with questions and arrange a followup discussion in the weeks ahead to share any updates that they would appreciate.
Connecting with customers with a mail piece to clients and potential customers will keep them in the loop and retain or spark their interest in you.
Update Your Website
Post the news of your organization’s M&A on your website. Get the facts out right away and show you are on top of things.
Your social channels should tell your audience what’s happening. Link to your own press release posted on your website, LinkedIn or a story featured on a news media site. Monitor the comments and be ready to set the record straight if incorrect information is being offered up to put you in a bad light.
We know this sounds like a lot. But these M&A events are transformative milestones in an organization’s history. While the CEOs, lawyers and accountants wrestle over the financial details, efforts to develop a communication strategy must be running on a parallel track.