Mergers & Acquisitions: The Benefits of Using Video to Communicate

January 25th, 2018 Vern Oakley

Corporate M&A transactions naturally create high-stakes communication initiatives. The need to communicate rapidly and efficiently, sometimes to large employee populations spread out over the world, can be a major challenge.
Video works exceptionally well for communicating in a high-stakes environment because:

  • Video travels well. Video can occur among multiple geographies simultaneously so the same message can go to everyone at once; additionally, when a video is complete, the message doesn’t change, which helps maintain consistency.
  • Video can communicate broad messages in bite-sized chunks. It’s a more efficient delivery mechanism. The amount of information packed into a 2-3 minute video can be far greater than a long written communique or email blast.
  • Video is more personal. With overnight leadership changes associated with M&A transactions, it’s useful to be able to feel like the person is in the room talking in a one-to-one scenario. It creates a human emotional connection with leadership, and it helps to create trust.
  • Video can help allay the fears of the workforce.  M&A transactions create organizational turmoil. Concise, authentic communication is the great antidote against turmoil and unease among employees or shareholders.

As filmmakers who work with Fortune 500/Global 1000 companies, we’re always helping to solve complex business problems. Over the years, this has led to to a keen understanding of the need and nuances of communication during the M&A process. We have been key communication partners in many phases of large M&A transactions: when Stanley purchased Black & Decker, when Watson Pharmaceuticals merged with Actavis then became Allergan, and when BD acquired CareFusion and CR Bard.

How To Use Video for Communicating During the M&A Transaction
Mergers & Acquisitions itself is a broad topic, with many phases, and therefore the potential areas of utilization for video are many. Video engenders visibility from top leadership at a time when it’s essential. Keeping employees up to date helps to maintain a sense of calm, even in the face of uncertainty.
Here are just a few situations in which video could be the best communication platform during the M&A process:

  • Merger or Acquisition Announcement. One of the first steps post-merger is introducing the new leadership team to employees to show the face of cooperation, share the common vision, emphasize a new strategic direction, or present the first tactical steps the management and employees should focus on. The audience for this video is primarily employees but also stock holders, customers, vendors and the overall market.
  • Post-Merger Integration Plan. After a merger takes place the two companies require a face of unity to allay the fears of the workforce and show that the company will be stronger in its new incarnation. The audience for this video is primarily employees but also customers and vendors.
  • Post-Merger Integration Progress Reports. Within the first year, the communication plan may include quarterly “progress reports” that include successes as well as unforeseen challenges. The audience for this video is primarily employees but also customers and vendors.
  • Culture Change. Culture is key for mergers to succeed. When two companies merge often there are often dominant cultural forces that differ between the two companies. How will the culture of the new company incorporate the dominant forces of each entity, or will it take on a new cultural identity? For example imagine two pharmaceutical companies are merging: one might be heavily researched-based with a premium on drug development, science and technology, while the other might be focused on bringing new products to market. This influences the way in which the company operates and how the individual employees interact with one another down to all social interactions. The audience is primarily employees, but also stock holders, customers and vendors.

Transparent leadership is key to the entire process, so it essential to create video content that humanizes the transaction. It is important to maintain clear messaging from all sides. The strategic and business rationale for the merger must be communicated over and over again to ensure that the message resonates. Tell the story.

Find out how your audience acquires information, what channels are they using? Make sure your video is distributed among the channels that management, employees and other stakeholders are comfortable with and already using to receive information about your company.

It is commonly understood that financial and legal due diligence is crucial during the transaction process. But a transaction can quickly turn chaotic when corporate leaders disregard the importance of a clear communication strategy. In our digital society, authenticity and transparency are indispensable to avoid misinformation and to maximize the success of the merger. Video can be your best tool in many complex M&A communication scenarios.