Every PR team approaches an M&A event with a mix of trepidation and enthusiasm. A successful M&A rollout can create tremendous value for the new entity. At the same time, the M&A road is fraught with a plethora of internal and external hurdles – before, during and after the public announcement. For any M&A announcement, the fast-paced nature of the digital marketplace creates an unpredictable PR environment that will always loom over the entire lifecycle of the transaction.
In the future, communications professionals navigating this complex journey will need to incorporate new data-driven skills and strategies. Industry leaders like the Brunswick Group, an international advisory firm specializing in critical issues and corporate relations, is using data and media intelligence from Zignal Labs to infuse predictability and stability into every M&A communications rollout. Here are the top four ways your PR, communications or social team can learn from Brunswick’s data-driven M&A communications.
#1: Always leverage data as the basis for strategic decision-making
Beyond the realtime monitoring of unwanted leaks and identifying other potential problems, Brunswick uses media intelligence and analytics to gain an understanding of an ever-changing corporate and media landscape. The data captured across the media spectrum allows analysts at Brunswick to make smarter and more strategic choices on behalf of clients, and gain a precise understanding of the marketplace dynamics affecting any potential merger or acquisition.
“We are very data focused,” says Antonio Ortolani, Director of Brunswick Insights at Brunswick Group. “In dealing with major multi-national corporate mergers and acquisitions, there is a lot of noise. It’s important for us to be able to understand who is influencing the conversation and how. There are a lot of voices out there, but we need to be able to focus in on the ones that can impact the deal.”
#2: Engage the influencers that matter
Brunswick uses media intelligence to determine how various groups and constituencies are reacting to industry news and trends. Through this process, Brunswick creates targeted, strategic outreach plans and communications. Recently, Brunswick helped shepherd the merger of two multi-national corporations. As part of this multi-year process, Brunswick relied on media intelligence and analytics to filter out the noise and focus on strategic paid and earned-media communications.
“We knew we were going to be inundated, and we were dealing with a mass of noise. Media intelligence allowed us to assess how elected officials in the United States, European Union and leaders in the NGO community were reacting to the news. It allowed us to focus on those groups and individuals who might have an actual ability to impact the deal.”
“There’s a lot of information out there. But we need to understand who matters and who we are going to prioritize, and why do they matter.”
#3: Bring context to social media
The way people use social media is also changing, and along with it, the evolution of social media’s impact within the broader media landscape. As recently as two years ago, stories were merely circulated online without much additional commentary. Today, Brunswick analysts find that about two-thirds of all social content is driven by Twitter — not a particularly surprising factoid. That said, the interesting discovery made by Brunswick is that roughly two-thirds of those articles shared included additional commentary or comments from the individual sending the story to their followers.
Social syndication has gone beyond recirculating headlines and amplifying the traditional media narrative. People are engaged, adding their own commentary and opinion, which is changing the way M&A stories evolve through the social and traditional media landscape.
“We can no longer just rely on what the traditional media is saying,” Ortolani says. “We now have a whole other media channel to monitor.”
Analytics also plays a key role beyond earned media, such as online and mobile outreach and ad campaigns. “Our use of media intelligence has evolved from just media monitoring to helping us understand how to drive engagement,” he says. “When we make key decisions about where we should be doing our paid media placements, media intelligence helps us understand how to make those decisions.”
#4: Use data strategically across the enterprise
The way Brunswick works is changing, and new solutions are helping them evolve with the changing times. Today, data and analytics are helping Brunswick analysts perform more strategic situation analysis for their clients, and also understanding emerging trends and habits in how people engage in a story. “It’s not just about when you’re in a crisis,” Ortolani says. “It allows us to be proactive. Are you winning the battle? And are you hitting the right audiences with the right messages? Now, we can understand and refine our approach, not just in real time, but we can adapt our approach for clients in the future.”
Anthony York is Publisher of Grizzly Bear Media (grizzlybearproject.com) and manages media partnerships at Zignal Labs. He was a political reporter for 20 years, covering state and national politics for The Los Angeles Times, Capitol Weekly, the California Journal and Salon.com.