public relations

Here's why you should toss the old PR handbook out the window 

Many public relations professionals have developed a set of unwritten rules that guide how work is carried out. Some of them are trite, and need to be tossed aside.

How (not) to drive your reputation into the ground: lessons from Elon Musk

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Elon Musk, the eccentric billionaire behind Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal, has seen his reputation take a few significant lumps recently, following a series of big communications blunders that cost him much embarrassment and tens of millions of dollars.

To say it’s been a tough year so far for the South African would be a bit of an understatement. He accused a diver who helped rescue a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave a pedophile. He smoked weed and drank whiskey with podcast host Joe Rogan.

And then, there was his abortive bid to take Tesla private, via a Twitter announcement.

The incident resulted in the Securities Exchange Commission bringing forward fraud charges against Musk and ordering him and Tesla to pay $20 million in fines each. The SEC stated his tweet was misleading, and caused “significant market disruption.” The admittedly exhausted founder was also forced to step down as chairman, but will remain as Tesla’s chief executive officer.

Musk’s reputation from tech-visionary-billionaire to someone who seems on the brink of having a complete breakdown offers a cautionary tale for executives who have, or want to have, a high-profile public presence.

For starters, what you say has a material impact on the company’s finances. Musk’s decision to openly speak his mind and even vent his frustrations on Twitter has caused the company’s stock to roller coaster in recent months. The day he announced his intentions to take Tesla private, the stock shot up 11%, but later sank -- before rising again a few weeks later after admitting that keeping the company public was the best option. But the ride wasn’t over just yet. The stock then dropped 9% after video of him smoking marijuana on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast went viral.

Most shareholders prefer the price of their publicly traded Tesla shares to be influenced by sales of cars and overall company performance, rather than the social media musings of its CEO. I’d be willing to bet these sort of swings irritated more than a few investors, even though for day traders who quickly jump in and out of a stock, it could have been a great opportunity to make some money.

But back to Musk. His erratic behaviour has done more than just upset the share price. It has also been attributed to senior leadership leaving Tesla. Some 41 executives have left the company this year alone, including the firm’s chief accounting officer after only a month on the job. As we wrote a few weeks ago, sometimes employees have no choice but to leave after a leader of an organization acts out of line, and it seems as though Musk’s actions have contributed to some heading for the exits.

How executives interact with the media is also incredibly important, not just to the individual’s reputation, but that of the company he or she leads. Musk has had a testy relationship with reporters, and has found himself in hot water over the past year. He lashed out at Reuters and other outlets, accusing them of publishing false, defamatory stories designed to hurt Tesla. Picking fights with the media is rarely a good idea, and the proverbial honey almost always triumphs over vinegar.

Having good relations with the press is invaluable, especially for high-profile executives. It’s also important for leaders to know the rules and guidelines for interacting with reporters. As we always stress to our clients in our media training programs, it’s a best practice to assume that all conversations with a reporter should be considered “on-the-record,” meaning the journalist is free to use the comments made in any story he or she writes. Speaking “off-the-record” or on “background” is only appropriate when it’s mutually agreed upon by both parties. Simply prefacing an email to a reporter with the words “off-the-record” doesn’t make it so. Musk learned this lesson the hard way, when he wrote one such an email to BuzzFeed. Of course, his comments were published, this time on the subject of a British rescue diver allegedly being a pedophile. That diver is now suing Musk.

Even though Musk is probably one of the world’s most famous billionaires and whatever he says is bound to generate headlines, the fact is that what happens to him can happen to anyone in a position of influence. With social media ready to massively amplify any blunder, what leaders of organizations say has a bigger impact on the bottom line than ever before.

So, how to proceed? Think before you speak. Think before you tweet. Have an issues and crisis communications plan in place if necessary. And whenever you can, be nice to the press.

Bad company: when your organization’s reputation starts to hurt your own

Earlier this summer, there were a number of stories about current and former White House staffers complaining about not being able to date in DC thanks to their boss, President Donald Trump.

Many vented their frustration, saying they’re on a social blacklist because of their boss and his controversial (to put it extremely mildly) public profile. While the vast majority of these individuals probably never met Trump himself, or even supported all his policies, their association with such a divisive person negatively impacted their reputation.

Not being able to land a date is one thing. But what happens when staying on with your employer means tarnishing your professional reputation, perhaps permanently?

There are instances when public figures cross a line that is just too far, and require immediate action. Wanda Sykes, who was a consulting producer on hit show Roseanne, quit before ABC Entertainment had a chance to publicly comment on the racially-charged tweets sent by Roseanne Barr, which ultimately caused the sitcom to get cancelled.

The same can be said for top staffers in former Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s office. When news broke of allegations of sexual misconduct against him, many of his closest advisors took to Twitter announcing their immediate resignation before Brown even held his press conference. They full well knew that in the court of public opinion, especially in politics, they needed to distance themselves from Brown’s now tarnished reputation.

Since quitting one’s job on a whim is not a choice many can afford, there are options for employees who find themselves being tarred with the same brush as the C-suite, or even the organization’s brand.

We spoke with Evangeline Berube at Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, to gather some insights on what to do when your organization’s negative brand threatens your own.

Provident: At what point does a company's or a senior executive’s negative reputation begin to affect that of their employees?

Evangeline Berube: That really is dependent on the individual ideals of an employee. On one hand, they may not consider their leader’s reputation as having much of an influence on their day-to-day; on the other hand, a professional may feel their leaders’ reputations are representative of the work they do, and a reflect on their own.

More often than not, people want to support and work for companies that serve a larger purpose and help their communities. They want leaders who demonstrate a commitment to something bigger than themselves and may get disenchanted or disengaged with their own work when they feel that their manager doesn’t live up to their own vision of the organization. They may not feel proud of the work they do and start looking for an organization that better represents their professional and personal principles.

Successful businesses make goodwill, philanthropy and engaging corporate involvement part of their culture. This includes giving employees time and resources to dedicate to charitable and community activities and aligning leadership goals with individual goals.

P: Do employees have any options to help protect their personal reputation other than quitting?

EB: Everyone influences culture, whether they proactively try to or not. The best way for employees to protect their reputation is by entrenching a positive reputation for themselves among colleagues and within their network.

Lead by example, and embody the type of corporate culture you seek for your company. For instance, you can foster a culture of recognition by acknowledging colleagues’ work and celebrating their successes. Additionally, you can:

  • Talk to your manager about the culture you think is right for the company. If you’re looking for changes, don’t gripe. Talk about how the company can benefit and ways you can help.

  • Thank colleagues for their help.

  • Build rapport with coworkers, and take an interest in their well-being and that of the people network.

  • Be a resource for your colleagues and peers, including by offering to help when possible.

P: Does working for a company with a bad reputation impact future employment opportunities?

EB: In our experience, it has more of an impact on the business itself rather than the employees who work for them. It makes it more difficult to recruit top talent, and keep top talent.

When employees or job seekers feel that their leaders aren’t living up to the ideals of the business, or misrepresenting the values of their teams, they run the risk of their workers becoming disengaged, unmotivated, resentful and ultimately ready to leave.

When looking for future employment, how workers handle the way they left a company or leader they no longer related to may actually say a lot about them to future employers. Leaving on a positive note while maintaining their individual ideals, shows a strength of character and a commitment to professionalism.

P: Should employees speak out publicly against their employer to distance themselves?

EB: Sometimes silence speaks volumes. Ultimately, leading by example and living the ideals you want your leadership to embody says more about what you represent as an individual and as a professional.

As the famous saying from Warren Buffett goes “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” At Provident, we couldn’t agree more and have seen first hand just how fast things can change. That why it’s important to have a plan in place to not only respond to potential crisis, but also recover and rebuild any reputational damage sustained. We’d also like to thank Evangeline for taking the time to share her insights on this issue, and we hope you found it as beneficial as we did.

What makes a “strong writer?” The answer has big implications for your communications strategy

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In the marketing and communications field, we’re always on the lookout for talent. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked if someone is a “strong writer.”

It’s a simple question, but what does it really mean?

There are the clean writers – those who love grammar debates, can edit like rock stars and always produce clean copy, but who would never thrive as a copywriter at an ad shop or PR firm. Others lead with their creativity – they couldn’t care less about Oxford commas, but their stuff is original, compelling and interesting. There are also skilled technical writers, Web and SEO masters, and so on.

Communications writing suffers from a particular problem, and it is this: too often we assume that anyone who can string words together with any kind of proficiency is good to go. It's odd, because we go to such great lengths to pigeonhole other roles in the field – too much, in my opinion - based on whether they’ve done more consumer and business-to-business PR or crisis communications and social strategy.

Not applying this sort of critical analysis before handing someone a writing assignment can lead to bad fits. Sponsored content aimed at consumers written by a technician is more likely to be flat, while a sensitive internal memo from the CEO may not capture the right tone if written by someone who mostly produced content for an energy drink.

The problem for communicators is that, as earned opportunities continue to shrink, paid and owned channels are becoming more important than ever. And there are only so many videos we can make - or watch. Someone has to get busy writing, and the competition for eyeballs is unrelenting. It’s not enough to just get it done. It must be done correctly, and that starts at the source.

So, if any of your 2018 strategic plans include the word “content”, you need to look long and hard at your stable of writers, and ask yourself some important questions.

Do I want an industry expert, or do I want someone who can entice readers?

Most journalists who cover an industry have never worked in that industry, and never will. They get assigned to a beat and they do their homework to build up their knowledge. What’s important on day one is not that they can distinguish a mutual fund from an exchange-traded fund, but whether they can write about these things in a compelling, attention-grabbing ways. Same goes for corporate writing.

I’m not saying industry knowledge isn’t important, but when it comes to creating content, place the ability to write above the ability to speak and understand jargon. In fact, stomping out jargon, or the ability to distill complex and wordy explanations into simple concept can be the hallmark of a great writer. Keep this in mind when building or reviewing your writing team.

The person who knows your organization and industry inside and out is not automatically the best candidate for the content role in your department.

Is my current writer excited by their role, or are they simply writing because no one else wants to?

Especially in smaller organizations, the task of most blog and web writing falls to the person in the room who either doesn’t hate the thought of it, happens to be the best speller or who is too junior to say “no.” Once this person is identified, it’s very tempting to consider the problem solved and move on.

Don’t do it. If the person tasked with developing the voice and tone of your organization is doing it as nothing more than part of their to-do list, the result will speak for itself. Find someone with passion and chops.

Do I want a capable writer or a skilled storyteller?

The blogs you read regularly, the novels you download and the magazine articles you share on Facebook are written by people who can do more than just write with good grammar and correct spelling – they have a way with words that leave an impression. In other words, they’re storytellers. It looks easy, but it’s not, hence the old joke about people meaning to write a book after they retire but never getting beyond the first page.

If your strategic plan involves reaching a large group of consumers who have no shortage of distractions, then you absolutely need someone who can break through to them – who knows the art of the story just as well as the rules of grammar. The bigger your audience, the more important that skill is.

Am I constantly struggling to provide my writer with feedback because it’s hard to put into words what’s wrong?

A piece of copy reads well, but it’s just not “right.” The tone is off, or it’s just not capturing the spirit of the purpose behind it, or the organization that supports it. If that’s happening more often than you’d like, then it’s quite possible you have a mismatch – a writer who can write, but isn’t right for the assignment, or perhaps even the role. If you’re finding yourself having to often rework because of this, or lack a comfort level with your writer that’s not related to their technical ability, it’s time to reassess.

The bottom line:

When it comes to content, settling for good-enough writing is a dangerous proposition. Anything you post under cover of your brand must be more than adequate. It must strive for excellence. That takes writers who really know their stuff. Whether in-house or from an outside agency, make sure you have at least one that you can count on.


 

Ten things you can do this Summer to re-energize your PR machine

If there’s one thing all PR pros know, it’s the futility of “planning your day.” All it takes is one phone call or email to shatter your lovingly prepared to-do lists into a million pieces.

The good news (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) is the arrival of Summer – a perfect time to tackle the things we’ve all been meaning to do, but for which there hasn’t always been time.

Now I know Summer does not necessarily mean things slow down. In fact, vacationing team members have a way of increasing workloads for those still stuck in the office. And for some industries, Summer is what Christmas is for retailers.

But for many of us, things gear down in July and August, which usually means September will bring with it a rude awakening. That’s exactly why you should use the next eight weeks to do a tune-up on your PR machine so that you’re ready for when the busy season returns. Here’s how:

1. Schedule those face-to-faces

Maybe it’s the reporter you haven’t met, or someone who has been identified as a potential influencer. Or, maybe it’s that elusive executive. Regardless, even with vacations, Summer is a great time to actually meet and talk with someone. Do it now before family, work and business travel obligations once again wall them off from you.

2. Clean up your contact list

People move around, and things can get out of date fast. We’ve all been there: you turn to your trusted contact list, only to find out it’s no longer accurate. No more excuses; now’s the time to whip it back into shape.

3. Get some blog posts under your belt

Even people who love writing under pressure know it’s no fun squeezing out a post an hour before deadline while juggling five other things. Create a few “timeless topic” pieces and store them so that you can publish them when they’re needed the most.

4. Conduct a competitive analysis

We’re all drowning in data, so you should know quite well how you and your team are performing on metrics, whether it’s articles, CTRs, engagement or message pull-through. But many are less sure how their competitors are doing. Now’s the time to take a cold, hard look in the mirror and compare yourself – do an audit, talk to colleagues in sales and marketing and see how they view the world. Bottom line: learn not just where you stand, but also how you stack up against the rest of your industry.

5. Revisit that crisis plan

You know that crisis playbook that’s laying around somewhere, right? The one overseen by your long-departed predecessor, with the outdated contact information and messages? Yeah, that one. Now’s the time to update it – before the next crisis hits.

6. Take a vacation from your routine

With non-stop busy-ness comes a “just get it done mentality”. That usually means no one, least of all you, is in the mood for experimenting with new tactics, or digging deep to find new sources of stories or content. Summer is a great time to stretch your legs a little. Read up on best practices, talk to your peers, learn what people like you in other industries are doing. Or connect with colleagues in the organization you never normally see – mine them for ideas, and ideally, experiment with something new before Summer is over.

7. Review your vendor list

PR pros get their fair share of cold emails from people looking to offer their services, everything from monitoring technology to photographers. If you use vendors, take an honest inventory of where you’re weak or where there are gaps, and then go back into your inbox and follow up with some of them. There’s no shortage of talent out there, and you shouldn’t settle for second-best in anything.

8. Test-drive an agency

If you're a startup you’re lucky enough to work in a business that doesn’t require 30-page RFPs and a mountain of procurement rules, and you’re strapped this Summer, then why not acquaint yourself with a new agency? I’ll happily be self-serving here and say that smaller agencies are far more likely and able to accommodate a small project on short notice, especially in Summer. Doing so will help you get a sense of what’s available to you when bigger projects comes down the pipe later in the year.

9. Award submissions

Winning awards? Yay! Filling out submissions? Nope! Summer is not award season by any means, but you may have sense by now of what project or campaign you’re considering submitting later. So, go find a patio somewhere and do the heavy lifting now, and then circulate copy for early approval. You will thank yourself in a big way months from now.

10. Take a break

Finally, don’t be that person who accumulates loads of vacation time. This job can be tough. Use that time. Believe me, your colleagues, clients, friends, family and dog will all thank you.

Any other ideas for things to tackle this Summer? Let’s hear them!

Why PR is a must-have for startups

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Startups face a wide range of challenges and competing priorities. Between sourcing new business, maintaining relationships with your existing clients and refining your product or service, there is a lot going on. Marketing can sometimes take a back seat.

However, we believe firmly that the one thing startups shouldn’t forget about is public relations. Good PR does much more than just build some buzz and grow basic awareness. Here are three key reasons why telling your story effectively to the outside world is a must for young companies.

1. Seeking Financing

Finding financing and investors is critical to taking many startups to the next level. Over time, having a visible profile in the media can play a massive part in the success of your fundraising efforts. The reason is simple: many investors of all sizes and across all sectors look to the media as a key source of information. The more high-quality blog and media coverage your company receives, the more these investors will be looking at you.

As well, one of the best ways to show off the credibility of your business to potential investors is sharing links to positive media coverage highlighting your brand and product or service. This is especially crucial when making cold pitches, as the success rate can skyrocket when you have third-party coverage backing up your pitch.

2. Thought Leadership

Taking steps to establish yourself as a thought leader is a sound strategy for founders, and should be part of any startup PR plan. You launched your company because you’ve got deep expertise in a particular field, or a unique perspective about your industry. You should share it! This can work especially well if your company is in an industry that does not already have a ton of established experts writing white papers and regularly providing commentary. By sharing your knowledge, you and your company can gain exposure to new potential partners, new talent, and even new relationships with reporters.

In addition to speaking with media directly, a great way of doing this is by creating relevant and engaging online content, such as blogging or video. You can maximize exposure by sharing your storytelling through both your personal channels and your company’s, sharing your posts with the reporters who cover your sector, or spending a little money on promotion. This lets your leaders increase their own profile, while putting the company brand in front of a targeted audience.

3. Strategic Partnerships

Partnering with other companies in your industry makes sense for a variety of reasons. You may be looking to co-develop a product with someone who has capabilities you don't. Or, you may be thinking longer term, about one day selling your company. It might feel strange to be thinking about your company’s eventual sale right at the beginning, but many of your potential investors will be thinking this way as they consider whether to fund your business. That means you have to think about it too. Your PR plan can be critical to attracting the attention of major players in your industry, either for partnership or potential exit.

We see this every day in the telecom and finance sectors, with the next great company being purchased by a larger incumbents. Quality exposure matters, especially in sectors where there are many similarly oriented startups in a race to be first in a particular niche. To get on the radar of the large player who might one day partner with you or buy your startup, you have to successfully target both mass market press and trade publications in your PR strategy.

PR is a critical tool for a startup to employ in establishing its brand and credibility with investors, partners and a variety of other stakeholders. It takes hard work and expertise. In recognition of this, we have developed a specialized offering specifically for startups. Check out Provident Ignite, or drop us a line at wojtek@providentcomms.com

 

 

We should talk!

Photo courtesy of Ostap Melnik

Happy New Year!

I’m proud of how quickly Provident Communications Inc. has grown since launch. To continue building on this early success, I plan to expand the firm in 2017. If you are a communications professional who wants a rewarding, fast-paced challenge, Provident is the place. If you want to do great work for great clients in exchange for excitement, flexibility, financial upside and the opportunity to shape a start-up corporate communications firm, I would love to speak with you.

Here is, in very broad strokes, how I would define someone ideally suited to work at Provident:

You are never happy with the status quo and always strive for improvement, disrupting your own way of doing things and constantly learning new platforms and ways of communicating. You’re passionate, creative and excellent at connecting with people. You have a focus on action and results, driven by clearly set expectations. You’re resilient, calm under pressure, and thrive despite uncertainty. You welcome feedback, and give it freely, in pursuit of the best possible client outcome.

You have lots of experience developing new business and attracting new clients. While this is a senior role, you’re just as capable and excited to be actually doing the work as you are selling it. You have great media relationships. You never have coffee alone, and are always connecting with new reporters, bloggers, potential clients or future colleagues. You’re comfortable giving difficult advice to senior executives, and you’ve managed crisis and issues for clients in the past.

You know that the one thing you have over everyone else is the ability to outwork them, and that hard work is what turns your great talents into success. This is a start-up firm, and that means lots of hustle. You make mistakes, get over them quickly and don’t repeat the same ones twice. You believe failing fast is good, but not as good as failing less. Your vision of the future contemplates only success, because you know negativity is poison.

In return for the value you add, you want significant financial reward, a chance to shape a communications firm from the ground up and the ability to work with some of the best clients in Corporate Canada and, soon, Corporate America.

If that sounds like you, drop me a note at wojtek@providentcomms.com

(Photo courtesy of Ostap Melnik)

Six months in: a sincere thank you

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Today marks exactly six months since I launched Provident Communications Inc. It has been an incredible time: thanks to the trust and confidence of my clients, the firm has already exceeded every one of the full-year targets I set for myself at launch.

I couldn’t be more thankful. Across a variety of sectors, some of Canada’s biggest companies have entrusted me with their business, from strategy and executive communications to M&A and issues management. At the same time, I’ve helped several of the country’s most innovative and client-focused startups build their brands.

Provident operates in a highly competitive industry, and I know all of my clients have a great deal of choice, so I’m both honoured and flattered by their business.

I’m equally thankful for the awesome and generous people in my personal and professional networks. So many of them opened doors, made introductions, gave unsolicited recommendations and provided ongoing feedback on my various (good and bad) ideas. Much of this kindness has translated into new business, strong leads and potential partnerships. I’m committed to reciprocating in full, and also to paying it forward and helping others however I can.

Like any entrepreneur, I've also made mistakes and learned from a few hard lessons in the last six months. I expect this will continue for as long as I'm in business. I've learned to welcome and enjoy the tough moments as much as any success I achieve, because they teach so much about self-awareness and resilience.

The year ahead promises to be even more exciting. New and existing clients are looking to drive major change and large-scale projects as soon as 2017 begins, and I’m thrilled to support them in doing so. Provident will also seek to grow in size, so I will be looking to expand the team as the year progresses.

Above all else, I will focus on what I do best: blending my journalism and corporate communications expertise to work with brands and leaders to deliver great business outcomes. As it has been until now, the work Provident delivers will be backed by a commitment to unparalleled responsiveness and exceptional client service.

Thank you again to everyone who has helped Provident have an incredibly successful first six months. I wish all of you happy holidays and a great New Year!

-Wojtek Dabrowski, Managing Partner, Provident Communications Inc.

How communicators can stay ahead in the chaos of an M&A transaction

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Mergers and acquisitions are high-stakes stuff: for the buyer, its competitive position, the ultimate success of its strategy and the trajectory of its stock price are on the table. For the seller, there are often worries about what will happen to company culture, brand, and job security.

At the same time, with teams of lawyers, bankers and other advisors involved, a deal can feel like the proverbial kitchen with too many cooks. For communicators, the challenge is acute, as each of those groups has an opinion about how the story, rationale and messaging of the transaction should be conveyed to various stakeholders, including employees, investors and media.

Each of the aforementioned chefs is coming from the right place, and chances are they recognize that both early and ongoing communications are critical to a deal's ultimate success or failure. After all, if the transaction isn’t embraced by employees on both sides, or if investors feel the story isn’t clear enough to support it, even the best can falter.

From my M&A experience in the North American financial services industry, there are a number of effective ways to ensure communications considerations stay front and center in a deal scenario.

Get a seat at the decision-making table ... before it’s even set. Depending on your company’s way of doing things, you may be brought into a deal with just a few weeks before the public announcement. If that’s the case, you’ll be playing catch-up with the other people involved, and you’ll constantly be reacting to developments, rather than steering them proactively.

Before a deal ever gets announced, make sure your department is on the same page as your corporate development, strategy and investor relations (IR) teams. Set up a meeting yourself, or get the head of your department to do it, if you’re in a more junior role. Ensure that you and your partners understand the value each brings in helping the transaction land successfully. And, more selfishly, get them to understand the role your function can play in telling a deal’s story internally and externally.

When this is done well, your corporate development and IR partners will advocate for you in front of your company's senior leaders, which will ensure you're brought in earlier in future deals.

The ideal end-state here is that you’re signing a non-disclosure agreement about a deal at the same time as your investor relations colleagues, so that you can work as a synchronized team, instead of at cross purposes. Speaking of which…

Make best friends with your IR group, if you haven’t already. They are a font of context, information and financial knowledge that communications teams leverage all too rarely. And because most IR teams report to the Chief Financial Officer, odds are that they will have the most current information about a deal and its status earlier than you will.

Whenever possible, I try to invite myself to review sessions of the IR materials being created (the investor deck, the analyst conference call script, et cetera). This not only keeps me up to date, but also ensures I’m aware of the challenges and questions my colleagues in IR are grappling with.

It’s important to remember that while both you and your IR colleagues are working on communicating the deal, you are doing so with very different audiences. For example, for a communications team, it may seem natural to point out to the media that the deal you’re announcing is your company’s largest acquisition to date. But for your IR colleagues, you could be creating a major headache, as emphasizing the deal’s size may be creating the perception that your company just paid a very full price. That might not be something IR wants to communicate to investors at all.

That’s why having a healthy and established relationship with IR before a deal lands in your lap is so critical. That way, you understand each other and what you’re focused on accomplishing from the start.

Get the first drafts of everything done as soon as possible. I remember working on a multibillion dollar acquisition where I locked myself and two other colleagues in a conference room for three hours, and we wrote the first draft of the announcement press release. While the financial terms and closing timeline continued to evolve until the day before announcement, the core story didn’t mutate too significantly from that first draft.

If you do a good job capturing the deal’s narrative, my rough estimate is that 75%-80% of your first-draft announcement is likely to survive to the finish line. There will be lots of specific word-choice edits and legal vetting of all documents, but once senior leaders agree on the bulk of the deal's strategic narrative, its essence tends to stay relatively constant.

Getting the early press release down on paper also lets you turn attention to the other, equally important items on the deal’s to-do list: employee communications, the media list and spokesperson selection, among others.

Lastly, don’t lose sight of your long-term goals and your role. Fundamentally, deal communications are no different from anything else you’re tasked with communicating: you have to be engaging, compelling, emotive and innovative in the channels you use. As always, it’s important to truly understand your audiences. Typically, those include your company’s employees, the target company’s employees and the media. You might also be tasked with aspects of government and regulatory communications, in addition to customer communications.

How will you address these groups so that they easily and clearly get answers to their most pressing questions, and also understand the strategy behind the transaction? What role will your leaders play in conveying that information, internally and externally? And what happens post-announcement?

In a deal, it’s easy to get swept up in the immediate excitement of the transaction. But keeping a broader, longer-term view goes a long way to assure ultimate success. Think about how the news you’re announcing could be woven into your existing communications strategy, for example. Is there an opportunity to showcase the transaction and its early performance at town halls, or at your annual meeting? What about a blog post on your company’s intranet? A real-time Q&A with senior leaders? Announcement day is just the beginning!

I hope you enjoyed the post, and if so, that you’ll take a moment to like, share or leave a comment below!