Now that you’ve incorporated our tips on how to increase your deal flow by showcasing your expertise and actively building your brand, you are ready to graduate to the next level of brand-building: deal-related communications. When a deal is underway, what communications should teams prioritize?
- Communications to employees of portfolio companies impacted by deals (acquired firms, platform companies rolling in a newly acquired company, etc.).
- Communications to customers of acquired firms and platform companies.
- External-facing communications (via relevant media and social media channels) that can help raise the profile of the private equity firm and its portfolio companies.
- Deal-related marketing collateral, such as testimonials or case studies that showcase unique investment approaches, value-creation over an investment period, etc.
Communications are an essential part of the deal process. However, too often, private equity firms ignore important deal communications, which can result in missed branding opportunities as well as confusion among those impacted by deals (e.g., employees, customers of an acquired business). In the worst cases, a haphazard approach to communications can damage a firm’s reputation – and you don’t need me to tell you how costly a damaged reputation can be to your bottom line.
There is a lot to gain by incorporating communications into your M&A strategy. Here are four ways M&A professionals can up their deal communications game:
- Strategically develop messaging for different audiences – like employees, customers, centers of influence and media – early in the deal process. Use this message-building process to clearly communicate the benefits of the deal for all parties involved. Also, be sure to determine how to best communicate the value you and your firm brought to the deal. This messaging should serve as the cornerstone of the rest of your communications efforts.
- Create a detailed communications plan. This plan should cover timing (e.g., when will employee communications and customer communications go out?), target audiences (e.g., which industry publications do you want to receive the deal news?) and strategy (e.g., who is your best spokesperson?). Planning out the communications process in detail will help you think through the many considerations in play, the communications challenges you may face and the tough questions you may need to address.
- Train communicators. Prepare spokespeople to answer questions from reporters, customers and employees. The spokespeople who will speak with reporters should go through a thorough media training session so they understand how to effectively communicate key messages around the deal and avoid common interview pitfalls. Those who will communicate with employees and customers should be ready to answer all the difficult questions they could face around personnel and supply chain issues.
- Showcase your successes. After a deal closes, look for opportunities to tout your wins via case studies or testimonials. Maybe you came up with a unique investment approach to meet the succession planning needs of the acquired company’s owner. Maybe the deal is an opportunity to showcase the value you helped a business generate over a multiyear investment period. Whatever the case, if all deal parties are willing to go public with the details you want to share, don’t be shy about trumpeting your successes. The best way to highlight your unique value proposition to centers of influence and deal targets is by sharing real-world examples of your success.
Advance your brand-building efforts by following this approach and making the most out of your deal communications.
At The Agency at Sikich, our advisors specialize in developing strategic communications plans that help organizations increase brand awareness. Connect with our specialists to learn how you can capitalize on deal-related communications opportunities.