Creating a Common Language: Merger & Acquisition Communication Plan

May 22, 2024

Is your company facing an upcoming merger and acquisition (M&A) or in the post-merger world of managing the new structure of your business? 

Mergers represent critical turning points for companies, offering opportunities for growth, expansion, and enhanced market presence. But they also pose significant communication challenges that can determine the success or failure of the entire deal. 

Some questions you will undoubtedly face as you work through your merger: 

What are the standards for communication you want to incorporate with your new employees? How do you manage the cultural differences? How do you unify the internal messaging and external communication to customers?

These questions are crucial to get right. According to a study from Mercer, 46% of leaders say that Communications is the top driver of organizational culture during a merger. 

For executives managing the operations of a merger, here’s a look into the important role of communication throughout the M&A process, the common challenges faced, the strategies to effectively manage communication, and next steps to ensure communication remains an important pillar in your organization. 


The Role of Communication in M&A

Clear communication guidelines and processes are crucial to a successful M&A. It ensures that all stakeholders, from employees to customers, understand the rationale behind the merger, the vision for the future, and the implications for their new roles.

A successful post-merger communication strategy, when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, employed a transparent communication strategy that helped retain LinkedIn’s unique culture and kept its workforce engaged and committed to the new vision. This comprehensive communication strategy was showcased in the CEO’s letter to LinkedIn employees, where CEO Jeff Weiner clearly announced the decision to merge with Microsoft, why they made the decision, and managed employee expectations in this new transition. 


Common Communication Challenges in M&A

If you’re running your organization during a merger, you realize all the inherent challenges that come with communicating your merger to employees, customers, and investors. It’s important to acknowledge these challenges and build systems to mitigate the risk of each one. 

Here are a few key challenges that executives should realize when managing a merger:

  1. Cultural Differences: When companies merge, they often have distinct corporate cultures, which can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary friction. For example, the Daimler-Chrysler merger faced significant challenges due to cultural clashes, leading to a difficult integration process. Specifically, according to a study by the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances (IMAA), the sudden switch-up in strategy from a “merger of equals” to Daimler-Benz taking control of Chrysler wasn’t communicated clearly, leading to a lack of trust and cooperation.
  2. Uncertainty and Rumors: The ambiguity surrounding M&A can fuel rumors and anxiety among employees, affecting morale and productivity. Clear and consistent communication is essential to mitigate these issues.
  3. Inconsistent Messaging: Disparate messages from different levels of leadership can undermine trust in the merger and the future of the united organization.


Creating an Effective M&A Communication Plan

To solve these inherent challenges before they become bigger problems, consider the following steps:

  • Develop a Comprehensive Communication Plan: Outline key messages, channels, and timelines amongst your executive team. This plan should include how you will communicate to and train employees, customers, and investors in the short period after a merger and how the organization will continue to communicate in the mid to long-term future. This helps ensure alignment with the overall objectives of the M&A.
  • Engage Leadership: Leaders should be at the forefront of communication efforts, providing consistent and transparent messaging to all stakeholders. Every leader should be on the same page when it comes to how the merger is shared internally and externally.
  • Address Cultural Integration: Acknowledge and respect the unique cultures of each organization. Develop strategies to merge these cultures into a cohesive new identity.
  • Maintain Open Channels with Employees: Regular updates can alleviate concerns and foster trust. Use various communication channels to reach all employees effectively and incorporate ongoing training plans to make sure employees understand the ins and outs of the new company.
  • Foster a Feedback Culture: Encourage feedback from all levels of the organization. Adapt your communication strategy based on the feedback received to ensure it resonates with your audience and employees.


Building a Unified Future with Effective Communication

In the often long and tiresome process of M&A, effective communication is the cornerstone of success (beyond staying compliant). 

It’s about creating a shared language that seamlessly unites two distinct organizations into a cohesive and well-oiled machine. By adopting a strategic approach to communication, addressing cultural integration, and maintaining open channels with employees, companies can manage the unique challenges of mergers with confidence.


Datafisher’s Role in Enhancing Post-Merger Communication

In the post-merger world, the successful integration of teams and alignment of values, goals, and communication styles becomes crucial to the long-term success of your company.

Datafisher is your partner in this journey, providing the tools and expertise to support your post-merger communication strategy. 

Our mobile Learning Management System (LMS) and tailored compliance training courses provide an ideal platform for educating and aligning teams post-merger. We help ensure that your communication strategy is effectively implemented, contributing to a smoother transition and a more unified organization.

Ready to tackle the communication challenges of your M&A? Contact Datafisher today and start laying the groundwork for a successful merger or acquisition.