An acquisition can be an exciting change for some and an unsettling one for others. There are a lot of stakeholders to answer to as the acquisition plays out - from customers to employees to current leadership. Having a communications plan in place will help ensure that you are able to do the following:
- Control the story and messaging around the acquisition
- Gain the trust of key stakeholders
- Retain engaged employees
- Drive a return on your investment
Read on to learn why each of those key objectives is important, and how building a communications plan will help you meet them.
Control the story
You know how the rumor mill works and likely have seen it thrive in many environments when a change is happening. Without a formal announcement or single source of truth, people are going to make up stories and build their own narrative around what is happening. Because of this, it is essential that you are proactive in distributing a consistent, clear statement about the acquisition and its impact on your stakeholders.
Think about who you want to reach, and communicate as early as possible to them: key leaders, board members, employees, customers, and the press. Each message may have a different tone, but the message should be consistent.
Also consider the timing of the acquisition, and build messaging to be delivered at each key stage: pre-close, closing day, at the start of the transition, as well as ongoing updates. All of this will go a long way in building trust and buy-in during the acquisition.
Gain the trust of key stakeholders
In addition to delivering a consistent message, you can gain the trust of key stakeholders by being as transparent as possible. Pending any privacy concerns, let your stakeholders know what you know, when you know it, so they will feel valued and part of this transition, instead of just a spectator. This will include giving them accurate timelines, updates on changes in leadership, and the reasoning behind any big changes that they will experience as a result of the acquisition. Think about three questions they’ll want answered: What’s new, what’s changing, and what’s staying the same? Proactively offering answers to these questions will prove to your stakeholders that you are committed to providing them accurate and up-to-date information about the transition.
Retain engaged employees
Employees tend to be the most fearful of acquisitions, as they will ask: What does this mean for me, my job and my team? Will I be replaced by a member of the acquiring company? Will I have to relocate? These are some questions that tend to take on a life of their own as employees make assumptions and projections about what will happen as a result of the acquisition. This goes back to controlling the narrative.
If you are able to communicate openly with employees, they are more likely to buy in to any changes that will be made following the acquisition.
Pro Tip: Be creative with how you communicate with this group and offer a variety of mediums- email, video, and even town halls, focus groups or round tables. Interactive options are great, because they demonstrate you are willing to hear feedback and answer questions, which will also keep employees engaged.
Drive a return on your investment
Building a robust communications plan won’t just help with the transition inside the company - you can also build out external communications that will portray to the outside world what the future of the company looks like.
Current customers will want to know how the acquisition will impact them, so the right communications plan will be key in customer retention.
This also gives you the opportunity to make a statement about future plans of the company, which may attract new customers and investors, as well as build excitement in the community where your company is based. Will there be new job opportunities? New product offerings? What will the economic impact of your company’s growth be on the area? Your external communications plan can help drive a positive response from external stakeholders, which could help your company continue to grow in the future.
Having a communications plan is essential for all phases of an acquisition, but no matter what stage you’re in, it’s never too late to make a more formal plan. Not sure where to start? Get in touch with us - we’d love to chat!