Growing companies constantly seek growth opportunities, whether by entering new markets or unveiling new products and services. Each opportunity demands thoughtful communication that helps stakeholders see the value of the transaction and supports the deal to a satisfying conclusion. The right communication strategy gives you control over the narrative, and can even increase the value of the deal. Follow these six best practices.
Particularly in the early stages, limit who knows about a transaction. Unofficial communication can be rife with harmful misinformation. Mitigate the risks of miscommunication with a proactive communication strategy. This strategy must include an announcement time line, a list of approved content and messaging, and a contingency plan like leaks or PR crises.
You must control and distribute all information. Monitor for inaccurate or incomplete information, and quickly correct the record. The deal must be clearly understood through the best possible messaging.
When planning M&A, you must develop a set of core messages about the deal. Support them with briefing sheets and Q&A sessions that help the company’s spokespeople engage with a variety of audiences, from investors to hostile parties. This controlled approach allows you to provide consistent messaging to many different audiences, to rehearse for potential problems, and to better hone your messaging strategy. This approach also creates a perception of transparency and accountability that can reduce any potential backlash.
Offer Informative, Transparent commentary
The regulatory environment makes full transparency difficult. But you can talk about a deal without divulging sensitive information about price or financial forecasting. Industry research, internal and external letters, and thought leadership offer useful background. Microsites, infographics, corporate videos, and press statements can also help.
Every transaction presents its own series of potential challenges. A skilled communication advisor should closely work with the Board to ensure communication is consistent, transparent, and effective.
Create Quality Content
Transactions often entail complex operational and financial details. So companies must create content relevant to and understandable for their target audience. Legal jargon is inappropriate for insurance customers who want to know how a merger will affect their benefits or premiums. Instead, craft engaging and relevant content that authentically captures your brand’s ethos. A wide variety of articles, multimedia presentations, and social media content can help.
Content should be customized to address various audiences on channels they follow. Search engine optimization can helpfully identify target audiences while measuring the effectiveness of your communications. Demographic targeting, re-targeted via cookie data analysis, zip code geo-targeting, and similar hyper-customized strategies can prove invaluable.
Note that valuation metrics are diverse, and can be characterized by engagement, subscribers, engagement, click-through rates, sales, and more. Choose the metric or combination of metrics that makes the most sense for your merger.
Know That the End of the Deal is Just the Beginning
At the completion of the transaction, the story is just beginning. Companies must consistently communicate about their strategy, achieved milestones, and performance to continue to rationalize the transaction. Among listed businesses, this will require integration updates, financial reporting, analyst earning calls, and investor and shareholder roadshows. Your annual reports provide another key opportunity for communication.
M&A can make or break your business. Due diligence is just one component of success. The way you communicate about what you have achieved shapes perceptions well beyond the deal’s close.