Whether it’s two companies combining to share resources, an industry giant absorbing a smaller competitor or something in between – mergers and acquisitions in the education industry are commonplace.
M&As can be a time for excitement, and a way to garner positive media attention for your brand. They also introduce risk. If you’re steering into the sea of change that a merger or acquisition can create, here are three imperatives to keep in mind.
Plan for the best, prepare for changes
With any big announcement, it’s mission critical to have a timeline and plan established before coordinating internal and external outreach. Creating a communications rollout schedule that stipulates the timing for outreach to various audiences is a good starting point.
Planning for change can prevent major headaches later, such as including a cushion in your timeline to leave for surprises. When CB&A supported Illuminate Education with a five-way merger, we allotted extra time to accommodate a schedule change. M&A is fluid by nature, and details of a deal can change frequently and with little warning.
In addition to planning for the external announcement, consider internal stakeholders. Open communication to employees about the merger or acquisition ensures a smooth transition, and that team members are informed throughout the process. CB&A helped Illuminate Education achieve this by updating customer and company FAQs and creating internal messaging, resulting in an effective changeover post-announcement.
Define your media outreach strategy
To cover all of your bases, develop a media strategy that includes local outlets, relevant industry publications and national consumer media. Work towards widespread media coverage by utilizing existing media relationships. Offer to share the big news under embargo to secure coverage, and build trust with top reporters and editors.
When Measured Progress merged with AdvancED, CB&A combined targeted outreach to key outlets with social media content to share the big news. As was the case with this merger, if local stakeholders will be impacted by the announcement, it is important to include localized news targets in your efforts to spread the word.
After securing interest, the next step is to develop talking points about this industry announcement to inform interviews. This guarantees that messaging is uniform across outlets, and establishes credibility for the newly merged or acquired entity.
In the case of Illuminate Education’s “mega-merger”, CB&A’s public relations efforts secured 14 earned placements in key outlets such as EdSurge and EdWeek Market Brief. This coverage highlighted Illuminate Education’s vision for the newly formed company, while communicating the benefits of the merger to target audiences.
Although media interest is never promised, a well-defined plan makes coverage, positive sentiment and a controlled message that much more likely.
Continue the momentum
After the official announcement is out the door, there are still outreach opportunities for you to pursue. Build upon coverage by promoting it across social media and using it as a talking point when pitching additional media outlets. Continue monitoring news coverage to gauge sentiment and determine if strategy updates are needed.
Take advantage of coverage earned during the announcement by providing a first-hand look at company updates and news. This constant line of communication keeps your brand top-of-mind, and showcases your company’s exciting achievements.
While any big announcement has uncertainties, these may be minimized by a well-thought-out action plan. With the right strategy and clear, consistent communication, an M&A announcement can be a positive PR driving force for your brand.
If you have an upcoming mergers and acquisitions announcement for the education industry and would like to talk strategy, get in touch with us today.