CEOs, M&A Leads, Project Managers and Communicators: this post is for you.
Mergers and acquisitions can create a buzz of excitement, but they can also create a lot of uncertainty for stakeholders. Keeping communications as an active part of your planning will help smooth the way.
As well as customers, employees (and shareholders if you have them), don’t forget these seven other stakeholder groups when planning your M&A communications.
Even if your organisation doesn’t have a dedicated communications person, communications should be one of the first things you think about for your merger or acquisition and it should absolutely be a “workstream” in any integration programme.
An experienced comms pro can advise you, take the lead on employee and customer communications, and employ clever campaign-type tricks for getting people to do stuff differently (systems and processes change a lot during mergers and acquisitions). They can also help you get the most out of the media and more.
2. Suppliers of goods and services
Once your merger or acquisition is announced, prepare for enquires from your suppliers. Having some common FAQs prepared is a good idea, and you can add to these as you get further into the integration process itself. Expect questions seeking reassurance you’ll still need their goods or services, how and where they should invoice and who will pay them.
You may also wish to consider early communication with your critical suppliers: utilities, labour agencies, companies providing raw materials, quality testing services and the like.
3. Key customers
No one likes change, and customers are no different. When they hear about a merger or acquisition they could worry their service will be impacted and even consider taking their business elsewhere. Good communications will help you minimise the risk of losing business and reassure them. Segment your customers and prioritise communications for key customers early on. You can also read this article about communicating change to customers.
4. Your IT team
Your IT department is invaluable during mergers and acquisitions. Without them it’s going to be tough to even send emails to newly onboard employees, never mind work to align hardware and software systems across two companies and their customers. Get them on board early and keep them in the loop to use their skills to support your communications strategy quickly and effectively. The IT Project Manager is always one of my key stakeholders 🙂
5. The HR team
Ditto HR. They need to be fully in the loop to get to grips with any wonderful nuances of TUPE, union negotiations, employee uncertainty, and the nitty-gritty nuances of different benefit and reward systems.
6. Trade and membership bodies
A merger could be a great opportunity to amplify your voice in trade associations, to increase your influence in other membership bodies, or simply to save money by avoiding a duplication of fees from both organisations. Either way, it’s helpful to keep trade or membership bodies up to speed with your merger or acquisition.
7. Political and regulatory bodies
Communicating a merger or acquisition to regulatory bodies should be a priority, particularly for companies in regulated industries such as finance and pharmaceuticals.
I hope this post has given you a few prompters when considering different stakeholders in your M&A communications. Employee and customer communications are whole separate topics in themselves! Who else would you add to this list? Leave your feedback below.