According to the 2016 EY Global Confidence Barometer, alliances and M&A will remain two of the main engines of business growth globally.*
“40% plan to enter alliances with other companies or competitors to help create a value from underutilized assets and 50% of companies surveyed expect to actively pursue acquisitions in the next twelve months.”
For those of us who have lived through numerous strategic alliances, mergers, acquisitions and even divestitures, we know only too well the importance of clear, consistent, respectful and timely communications.
So how do you make sure you are on the front foot when it comes to engaging with and managing the expectations and uncertainties of your key stakeholders? (Bearing in mind that you are often hamstrung by strict confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements during periods of due diligence.)
Know who it is that cares and what they care about: For one, make sure you clearly map out who all your stakeholders and audience members are; and give due consideration to the impact that a major organisational change, such as M&A, is going to have on each group.
Knowing who these groups are and what they care about means you can anticipate the varied reactions of these groups and ensure you are prepared with the appropriate messages and answers to FAQs well in advance of any announcements being made.
Dispel myths early: Don’t let gossip and hearsay undermine the potential opportunity of the pending M&A activity. Myths can spook the horses so to speak so you should keep your ear to the ground and be ready to dispel any myths as early as you can (without breaching confidentiality of course).
Work closely as a genuine team with your future spouse, and for goodness sake, communicate often and with consistency: Remember that there are at least two major parties in any M&A or strategic alliance situation. Good governance and due diligence will mean there is a strong cross functional M&A team appointed with representatives from both parties – be sure to make communications one of the very first considerations and not something tacked on when everything else is agreed though. Joint messaging needs to be consistent and timing of communications should be synchronised.
There are of course numerous other communications, engagement and marketing considerations when going through M&A (we haven’t even touched on rebranding, culture or strategy). Ensuring that these topics make it onto the planning agenda early can make the difference between the change happening smoothly or not.
At OTM our people have experienced and managed M&A related communications and rebranding strategies for major organisations on a global scale and for smaller groups on a national or local level. In all situations effective and well-prepared communications and engagement strategies had a sizable impact on the difference between acceptance and success.