What it takes to communicate a merger

Ten things you need to know about communicating during mergers and acquisitions. Video

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The biggest mistake communicators make when a company’s going through a merger, or being acquired?

“Not being prepared for an announcement of this complexity,” explains Jeffrey Block, associate director for Thomson Reuters Strategic Research. What often happens, says Block, is that “different parties get different information—customers hear one message, and investors hear another.”

1. Organize an internal communications/integration task force. The members of the task force “can tailor the broader message as to how it pertains to employees and customers,” says Block. “You’re cascading the message from senior management, all the way down to the sales force.”

2. Conduct a cultural assessment to find out how employees are used to acquiring information. “People are creatures of habit in terms of communication,” Block says. “The old company might have sent out weekly e-mails about what’s going on and the new company says ‘no’ to weekly e-mails.”

The change is bound to build resentment among employees who wonder why they’re being cut off. Ask questions about traditional methods of communications at the company you’re buying or merging with, in order to help ease anxieties within the newly blended staff.

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