Developing an effective communication strategy for a merger is vital to the success of the deal. The importance of communications planning is a need-to-have in transactions, however, some still consider it a nice-to-have and prioritize other areas to their detriment.
Granted, the level of communication varies at each phase of a deal; developing an overarching communications strategy helps buyers prepare and mitigates issues that can otherwise fester. Here are some basic yet essential elements for any effective communication strategy.
Who are we talking to?
Identify the individuals, groups, or associations that will be impacted by the merger and make sure messages are tailored to their needs and concerns. This list will include employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, business partners, and more.
What do they need?
Each audience needs to feel connected to the process for it to be successful. One size will not fit all for engagement so look at your stakeholders and determine the best way to get their input and understand their needs. When there is no engagement with stakeholders such as staff, you must keep in mind:
“Personal bias and groupthink can creep into the conversations, potentially using inaccurate information as the starting point versus what is truly happening at the organization.” – Joel Mazurkewich
What are we saying?
Effective messaging for a communications strategy is clear, concise, compelling, and consistent. Messages directly address the concerns identified by each audience, which helps manage the narrative of the merger and keeps stakeholders informed throughout the process.
How do we connect with them?
Understanding stakeholders provides a clear idea of which communication channels are most effective for each segment. Once the channels are identified, start developing a detailed plan of execution that includes prioritization based on audience, activity, and alignment with the overall strategy.
Were we successful?
Decide on a few measures at the outset and track them throughout the process to monitor how things are going and whether the messaging or channels require any changes. Are internal teams explaining the deal in the same way? Do clients understand the value of the merger for them? Retention is a big-ticket item but often takes longer to materialize. Book internal touchpoints and solicit feedback from all stakeholders at regular intervals to stay on track and ensure buy-in for the deal.
Putting it all together
Sounds easy, so what’s next? Understanding the necessary pieces required for developing an effective communication strategy for a merger helps determine whether an organization has the resources and capacity to manage this piece of the merger. Don’t worry if it sounds daunting or if timelines are too tight. Please reach out to learn more about how Incite could support the merger with a successful communication strategy.