Harness Your Company’s Public Relations
August 16th, 2016
If your company is planning an acquisition, merger, sale, corporate restructuring or a major management change, you may want the public to be informed and you want to control the flow of the information.
Once you announced the news publicly, your company is likely to be in the limelight for quite some time, so it’s important that you develop a plan to cover all the bases. Here are some areas to prepare for when planning a communications strategy:
Craft your message – This is the starting point and it must reflect your overall corporate strategy. Although you will probably tailor the message to different audiences, such as employees, the media, stockholders and analysts, the overall message should be consistent.
Highlight the benefits – When explaining the transaction, include the business or financial rationale, how the deal fits into your short and long-term strategy and what your company expects to gain from the transaction, such as a boost in sales or earnings or an expansion of your market.
Clear a path – Outline the process from beginning to end. Determine a timetable for disseminating information fairly and in a timely manner. Keep in mind any disclosure requirements. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Pick the right people – Name the individuals who will act as your company’s spokespersons, both to the public and internally to staff members. Line up people who will put your plan into effect, report on its status, and sign off on all intermediate transactions.
Brief and rehearse – Key players need to know the facts and be prepared for interviews or news conferences. Draft answers for the most difficult questions and for those you don’t want to answer for competitive or regulatory reasons. Prepare news releases. Be ready to offer timetables, quotes from top executives, and the company’s long-term outlook. Include phone numbers and e-mail addresses to contact individuals for interviews.
If your company is making a material acquisition or sale, the way you present the message can influence the expectations of shareholders and the market over the long and short term.
Among the questions that you should consider answering:
- Did the company get a good deal?
- With a purchase, how long will it take to integrate the new asset and how much is that going to cost?
- How is the company financing the purchase?
- If a sale is involved, how will you replace the lost revenue? What do you plan to do with the money from the sale of the asset? Pay down debt? Invest in expansion or new plant and equipment?
- Does the transaction accurately reflect the company’s long-term growth strategy or does it indicate a new direction?