Every day, newspaper headlines and business talk shows tell stories of mergers and acquisitions. Most of the time, that coverage is dedicated to the power play moves of major corporations that benefit from a cadre of highly-skilled financial analysts, lawyers and accountants.
And while those perspectives are a vital component of a big transaction, more often than not, the success of a mega deal comes down to how well the arrangement is communicated.
Recently RSC assisted our client, accesso – the recognized leader in theme park ticketing technology, e-commerce, mobile apps and payment processing – in communicating the announcement of its acquisition by the London-based virtual queuing pioneer, Lo-Q. The transaction is a major move and creates the premier technology solutions provider in the attractions and leisure industry.
The announcement of the acquisition was a remarkable milestone in accesso’s history, and for us presented a great reminder of several critical aspects of communicating such a significant occasion.
As with any major organizational announcement or development, it’s important to nail down the communications plan to ensure the right messages reach the right audiences. However, an acquisition may take on several additional levels of complexity due to a range of factors, including regulatory requirements, shareholder concerns and workforce sensitivities.
That’s why it’s vital to involve a communications professional in the process as early as possible. PR practitioners are accustomed to helping ideas and information flow back and forth within an organization, and they are good at translating complex elements of a transaction. They’re able to see the whole picture – how the deal affects every audience (internal and external) – and can help anticipate reaction and message the deal points in the most effective and tangible way.
Give your communications ambassador the complete picture. Its not uncommon for a company to be guarded in the level of detail it wants to share when it comes to a major transaction, and for that reason, they often will neglect to share critical components with their PR liaise. However, the better informed your communications representative is, the better prepared they are to position your organization for maximum impact.
Establish your employees as your most important audience. In today’s business environment, where shareholder value is king, it’s easy to overlook your employees. Your workforce, particularly in the midst of a merger or acquisition, becomes your biggest asset and your most vocal ambassadors or critics. Take extra time to consider the needs of your staff…
- the sensitive questions they’ll have, particularly around the impact to jobs, pay/benefits, and possible changes to client rosters or work teams;
- the desire to voice concerns to leaders
- the long-term impact to their company and its reputation and brand.
Remember that in almost every case with a merger and acquisition there are at least two separate organizational staffs that you must account for… and more often than not, their unique and different perspectives will require different messaging.
Finally, proceed with an abundance of patience. It’s human nature to want to quickly lock things in and stick to a particular deadline to announce the deal. But even the most logical corporate transactions can be chaotic and stressful. Paperwork, board approvals and filings are rarely beholden to a dedicated timeline. So be flexible with your plans and expect a lot of changes to your primary messaging, your press releases, and client emails, as well as to your internal FAQs and memos.
Major transactions inevitably mean big changes within one or multiple organizations; and with change comes stress and anxiety in the work environment. The best tip for anyone dealing with a major business announcement is to be as open and transparent as you possibly can, and to make the communication of the announcement as high a priority as the deal points of the transaction.