Mitigating M&A Leaks: How Marketing & Communications Can Help

March 25, 2024

After a dismal year for deals in 2023, an M&A rebound is already taking shape in 2024. But while improving market conditions have fueled optimism among dealmakers, they have also raised the risk of a familiar and persistent problem: unwarranted information leaks.

Just as bankers and lawyers are excited about the return of a hot deal economy, so are business and financial reporters who are hungry for scoops. After months of slow deal activity, many are now gearing up for the expected frenzy.

The risks associated with unintentional information leaks are often more serious than just a headline before a deal’s formal announcement. An untimely media report can derail a transaction, open one or all involved organizations to civil litigation and government action, and wreak reputational damage.

That’s why it is crucial to prepare robust communications plans to mitigate information leaks and their impact early.

Assembling the Right Team

The conventional wisdom around mitigating unwarranted leaks is to keep the in-the-know circle small. It’s a sound approach, but this circle must include marketing and communications professionals. Arming those teams with the facts and goals of the deal is crucial to mitigating risks of information leaks.

A well-informed communications team can help in these ways:

  1. Craft targeted messaging that can be quickly deployed to pertinent stakeholders in the event of an information leak. Each stakeholder group has different needs and concerns relative to the terms of the deal and requires unique messaging to manage their reactions and expectations to leaked news.
  2. Help identify potential vulnerabilities for information leakage and create contingency communications plans that can be quickly materialized in response to an unexpected event. Having clear, actionable plans can prevent last-minute scrambles and missteps when time is of the essence.
  3. Assign roles to and prepare public-facing spokespeople. This allows the entire organization to maintain some control over the subsequent narrative around the deal and efficiently respond to a leak. Furthermore, training spokespeople to address potentially sensitive or critical questions can ensure a calm and collected response in the event of a leak.
  4. Set up media monitoring procedures across both traditional and social channels to keep the organization nimble and apprised of any public chatter that may impact how it ultimately decides to publicly message the deal, either following an unforeseen media report or at its planned announcement date. It can also help an organization immediately identify misinformation or reporting inaccuracies to prevent unwarranted questions and concerns from internal and external stakeholders.

All eyes will be on the M&A movers and shakers this year, making thoughtful preparations and measured communications linchpins to their success. Dealmakers seeking to seize the opportunity of an improving market should keep their marketing teams close if they want to preserve the integrity of their transactions.

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