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If your organization is considering a merger or acquisition, you must know it takes careful planning and coordination to be successful. From a PR standpoint, effectively communicating the changes is also important, if not critical, to ensure a smooth transition.

Poorly handled communications during mergers and acquisitions can lead to disgruntled employees, distrustful customers, and a confusing brand message, among others. These kinds of hits to a company’s “PR” can do long-term – and sometimes permanent – damage.

If your organization is approaching a merger or acquisition, here are three key areas on which your PR agency or in-house team should be focusing.

Internal Communications

Communicating a merger or acquisition to your staff, investors and other key stakeholders before contracts are signed may not always be an option. However, there should be a plan in place to communicate as soon as possible how the change will affect them, which includes focusing on any benefits they may experience as a result – assuming that’s the case. What you want to avoid, if at all possible, is your employees finding out about the change through the news media, which is a quick way to cause fear, anger and distrust among the workforce.

When managing internal communications during a merger or acquisition, your PR team should have a strategic plan that may include:

  • Organizing an internal meeting to discuss the change
  • Providing information through an internal newsletter
  • Consulting with a PR agency that has experience with mergers or acquisitions and can help relay the change to your internal publics

External Communications

Your external audiences include not only your customers, but also the public at large. Many of your customers already have a perception of your company. Developing a strategy that clearly communicates what the new entity looks like will help them know who you are and how this change will affect them.

When managing external communications during a merger or acquisition, your PR agency or in-house team should have a strategic plan that may include:

  • Contacting customers directly in whatever format is most appropriate and feasible – phone, snail mail, email – to inform them of the change before they hear it elsewhere
  • Continuing to keep customers informed of changes, such as through your company newsletter or other format
  • Hire a PR agency to distribute a press release announcing the change to the public, to clearly express important key messages

Brand Communications

Many aspects of a company can change during a merger or acquisition – the brand of the company may be one of them. Depending on how the new entity is set up, your brand could either stay the same or change completely. Finding a way to communicate the new brand can be tricky.

When managing a rebrand during a merger or acquisition, your communications team should:

  • Ensure all branding is consistent across all marketing materials – company logo, company name, social media accounts, etc.
  • Communicate to every public your company interacts with how the new brand will effect them, if it does
  • Train employees on the new brand so they can represent the new entity correctly
  • Establish name recognition by developing a PR or marketing strategy

Mergers and acquisitions bring many uncertainties, and uncertainties make people uncomfortable. Effective communication can help alleviate this discomfort by proactively sharing information, answering questions and heading problems off at the pass. With the right amount of planning and assistance from a PR agency or a strong in-house team, your company will find that clear, consistent communications is key to a successful merger or acquisition.