An acquisition announcement might seem simple to those outside the public relations industry.
Doesn’t a corporate acquisition announcement just involve writing a news release and some social media posts and getting the word out? Actually, no.
It requires skill and advance planning for an announcement about a corporate acquisition to be effective. A PR pro should consider everything from specific messaging and information for each audience, while predicting what the news media will want to know.
With this in mind, here are six tips for making effective acquisition announcements:
Consider the audiences and create specific messaging
For a corporate announcement, the news will certainly impact employees and customers. But be sure to think about everyone who will be affected, and create a list that includes succinct, direct messaging points for each audience.
As examples, are there government regulators or industry groups that should know? Will local economic development and chamber groups be concerned if there is a possible headquarters move?
The messaging should start with a strong, compelling overall message, with audience-specific messaging branching off from that. As an example, we recently announced the acquisition of a major transportation provider, and one of our subordinate messages was to drivers, to let them know that the deal would potentially give them more trips, not less.
Align and collaborate
Whether you are working for the organization making the acquisition, or the organization being acquired, it’s important that both groups are heavily involved with the planning, and that everyone signs off on the messaging, so it will ring true for both organizations involved.
Early in the process, interview leaders of the organization that you don’t work for. Ask them what they see as positives of the acquisition, and find out what concerns their employees, customers and business partners will have that the announcement can address.
Then, with this information in hand, be sure that officials from both organizations are quoted in your materials, and are available for interviews if needed. The result: Consistent messaging that shows that both sides sincerely believe the deal will be good for all involved.
Create supporting materials
In addition to a news release, create a fact sheet for news media and a Q&A for internal use.
Reporters are in a hurry, and they would rather have the facts about a deal handy instead of having to dig through a news release for them.
A fact sheet can be invaluable to reporters, and is a way to help ensure accurate reporting. The fact sheet should include key details about the transaction, along with key information – i.e. headquarters location, number of employees, leaders, year founded and a brief history – about both organizations.
We also recommend creating Q&As for the internal team to use, segmented by audience. This document proves to be helpful for everything from creating talking points for employee presentations, to answering questions posed on social media.
Use a variety of channels
Certainly, it’s a good idea to send dedicated e-blasts with the acquisition announcement to customers, employees and other groups. But also think about people who might not be watching emails all day, such as warehouse or manufacturing staff, and use a variety of channels to reach them.
This requires planning, of course.
It could be helpful to post a video from the CEO on the company website, and having leaders and relationship managers make individual calls to key clients and business partners adds a welcome personal touch.
The result - more engagement from your key audiences.
Talk with reporters
Lay out the details of the corporate acquisition simply and effectively in your news release and fact sheet. Then, when possible, talk through the details with reporters before they interview your leaders or write their stories.
In this fast-paced media environment, we find that inexperienced reporters can sometimes get confused about the details or miss the bigger picture. So it’s important to leverage effective media relations, addressing misperceptions as they come up.
Then, when stories appear online, it’s critical to work with reporters and editors to ask for corrections immediately if there’s a factual error. These online corrections are simple to make, and we find that most reporters and editors are more than happy to fix something that’s inaccurate.
Think about SEO
Whether the acquisition gets news coverage or not, make sure your messaging is prominent online for people looking to find out about the deal.
Consider spending the money to post your news release with a service like Business Wire or PR Newswire, which will provide a powerful boost to the release’s SEO performance. And as you write about the deal in places like your website’s blog, make sure the posts are done in an SEO-friendly way.
Companies or organizations that have an acquisition on the horizon should talk to communications professionals sooner rather than later. Careful planning and strategic outreach will help ensure success from a communications perspective. Contact us to discuss your goals, and see how we can help.