How you communicate around a corporate transaction is critical to its success. What you say about the deal, who you talk to and in what order matters, and the bigger the deal, the more complicated that can be.
Without proper communication, companies can, at best, miss an opportunity to promote their strategic vision and mission, and, at worst, alienate investors, turnover employees and lose clients.
Here are four mistakes to avoid when announcing your M&A:
Letting your employees see it in the news before they hear it from you
Probably the single most important part of M&A communications is how and when you tell your employees about the deal. It’s important that employees know what’s happening, why, and how it affects them before it becomes public information. When employees hear big news of any kind from outside sources before they hear it from their leaders, they assume they are not valuable to the company. In a merger or acquisition, where integration can leads to layoffs, such a mistake could signal to employees that their jobs are at risk, resulting in reduced productivity, low engagement, and high turnover in the critical months after the close.
Ignoring the benefit to the customers
Most leaders recognize the importance of having a well-articulated rationale for their company’s M&A: new market exposure; technological advancement, access to distribution systems, etc. But too often companies stop there, failing to elaborate on how today’s decisions will ultimately benefit their customers. It’s this last part that makes the story relevant and positions the company as an industry leader, which builds confidence among existing and customers and drives exposure with new ones.
Saying nothing will change
Being honest with your employees and customers is always important, but never more so than during times of uncertainty. If you are combining with another company, things are going to change for at least some of these important stakeholders. It may not happen right away, and those changes may seem small to you, but they are real changes with real impact to people inside and external to your organization. Not recognizing or acknowledging that makes you look out of touch or unconcerned with the wellbeing of your workforce.
Not continuing to talk about it in the weeks and months after the announcement
The most important communications work you do around your M&A isn’t the lead-up to the announcement, it’s what follows. Often a major M&A announcement feels to those involved like an end because it comes after months of planning. But for the majority of your audiences, it’s only the beginning. Not having a solid change management strategy in place is a huge mistake. Be ready to lead your teams with an extended communications campaign that guides people on your journey to a fully integrated company, united in process, systems and culture.
A strategic communications plan is a must for any company facing a merger or acquisition. A seasoned professional will help you navigate the complexities of your deal and refine and tailor your messaging for a wide range of stakeholders whose response could impact the success of the transaction, including employees, clients, investors and analysts.
If you’re in need of M&A communications support, send us a note to let us know how we can help.