Step 7: Develop M&A Communication Plans

M&A communication planning is difficult because a merger is always a fast-breaking story.  Every day brings new developments. The truth is a moving target, and often dead on arrival.

Rumors start to fly as soon as people pick up the scent that a merger is in the works.   This is high drama.  Hot stuff.   Everybody has an opinion, and all the rules of gossip prevail.  In this tense environment, it is easy for messages to be misinterpreted, twisted, or exaggerated.

Communication planning requires much more thought in a merger than it does during more stable, less stressful circumstances. Yet, most key managers receive little education on what to say, and just as importantly, what not to say. There is little opportunity for them to make an insignificant remark. Practically everything they communicate is taken seriously, studied for innuendo, or held up to the light for subtle implications. Just because a comment from an executive is well-intentioned doesn’t mean that it is effective.

When merger difficulties develop, 75 percent of them have their roots in communication problems. In fact, at the very time company communication needs to be better than ever, it’s often at its worst. And the trouble is that communication problems never seem to remain just communication problems. They end up causing productivity and morale declines and—eventually—profitability problems. Work becomes more frustrating and stressful for everyone.

A well-crafted communication plan can help reduce employee anxiety and cynicism, protect the acquirer's credibility, and prevent top management from being accused of reneging on its promises.

In this section, we list the questions to expect from different constituencies and the proper information to convey to each. We also provide agendas and guidelines for conducting announcement, day one, and benefit meetings. Plus, our PowerPoint presentations and articles (more than a dozen) explain M&A communication planning best practices. And our eMerger software offers step-by-step instruction on how to develop an integration communication plan.

 

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Articles

5 things Never Say
5 Things You Should Never Say in Announcing the Deal
Just because a comment is well-intentioned doesn't mean that it works.
HR Executive Post merger communication
HR Executive Post-Merger Communication to Employees
Example of HR email to troops 90 days after close.
Noise the communication crisis
Noise: The Communication Crisis in Corporate America
What we have here is failure to communicate.

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Playbooks

Day 1 M&A Playbook: Supplier Communications

Day 1 M&A Playbook: Employee Communications

Day 1 M&A Playbook: Customer Communications

Communications M&A Integration Playbook

Videos

Rolling faqs
Why Set up Rolling FAQs?
Length: 39 seconds movies

Presentations

Tools

FAQs for employees
FAQs for Employees
The 5-page example provides answers to more than 30 frequently asked questions from employees in a merger.
Example of completed M&A Core Message
Example of Completed M&A Core Message Document and Core Message Template
The 3-page example of a merger core message document serves as content for various M&A announcements and helps ensure consistent communications throughout the organizations.
The Core Message Word template is also provided.
Merger Communication Checklist
Merger Communications Plan Checklist
A useful, simple one-page checklist to plan your messages.

Articles

M&A Employees Meetings
HR M&A Communication Employee Meetings: Announcement, Day One, and Post-Close
Agendas and guidelines for conducting announcement, day one, and benefit meetings
Top 10 reasons
Top Ten Reasons Why More Employee Communication Is Necessary When Merging Companies
Managers typically underestimate the communication effort required.
Merger Lesson
Merger Lesson from a Nobel Prize-Winning Psychologist
Employees weigh losses twice as heavily as gains
Why social media is dangerous
Why Social Media Is So Dangerous During Merger Integration
Communication problems never remain just communication problems.
Post acquisition
Post Acquisition: Customer Survey and Letter
They will probably appreciate the special attention.
Merger Announcements
Sugar-Coated Merger Announcements Leave a Sour Aftertaste
Come across as a real leader, not a breezy politician.
Avoid productivity dropoffs
How to Avoid Productivity Drop-Offs During a Merger
People operate with less intensity when priorities are fuzzy.
change
"I Love You. You're Perfect. Now Change."
The bait and switch experience that acquired companies often complain about.

Software

eMerger software for M&A integration planning
eMerger: Software for M&A Integration Planning and Communication
Proven, easy-to-use online reference tool for merger planning and communications.