Mergers are complex and require the involvement of multiple parties to execute. Conversations often start with the board of directors, or a designated committee, and while all believe they have the best future in mind, the voice of the member can come too late in the process.
We’ve seen mergers range from flawless to failed. At its core, a successful result almost always includes a plan to successfully communicate the right message to members about the merger at the right time.
In our work, we’ve learned that three communications activities are essential to a successful merger:
- Get member perspective. Before a board vote, conduct a survey to uncover member understanding of and support for the merger. Mind the gap between what leaders value and what members value.
- Develop a compelling message. If you believe you have enough support to move forward, it’s time to rally around a common, relevant message that tells members what’s in it for them. This is the emotional rationale for why the member will be better as a result of the merger.
- Deliver the message. Once you have the words to position the merger and its benefits, you need a coordinated plan to get the word out. This plan extends beyond the merger vote. A communications plan will ensure you continue to tell members what’s happening throughout the transition.
View NAR’s merger tool kit (page 30) which includes the article Never Hide a Merger by Melynn Sight. The 6 points highlighted in the article are still valid today.
If you are in early talks about a merger, preparing for the vote, or just need help with ongoing merger communications, contact us for help.