Over the last couple of weeks, two companies that I know well have been involved in M&A action. Nokia Siemens Networks, who I worked with since its inception to 2008 on internal communications, has announced that it is interested in purchasing parts (specifically the LTE and CDMA assets) of Nortel, the beleaguered Canadian telecoms company that filed for protection from creditors at the beginning of the year.
Last week it was also announced that Pleon, the communications consultancy that I once worked for, is merging with Ketchum, another Omnicom owned agency.
What I find interesting about both mergers are the publicly accessible microsites that have been specially created for the event. Here's Nokia Siemens Networks dedicated microsite for Nortel employees.
And Ketchum created this.
The content on both temporary sites aims to answer questions that stakeholders could have (in Nokia Siemens Networks case, just employees), by combining the marketing, investor relations, internal communications and customer service information about the respective deals.
Think of it as the press release for the future – a fully working comms centre ready to go as soon as big news is announced. Another one that was created ahead of a merger – and was subsequently taken offline once the merger was completed – was the Delta and Northwest merger site. Created by Delta, the site could be found at www.newglobalairline.com and was neatly designed around employees, customers and communities.
The amount of information on these sites is impressive. Employees at Pleon and Ketchum worried about layoffs, for example, are able to get a detailed FAQ answering that specific question as well as where the key markets will be on Day One, the merger timeline and reasons behind the deal.
These microsites with the mix of text, visuals, video and more seem more effective than sending the traditional one page press release, simply because they are more interactive. The content can be more relevant to a wider audience and reach many more than a traditional press release could. It also focuses the minds of what the message is, cutting down on awkward questions from employees and the press, and the even more awkward stumbling answers from spokespeople, once the deal is announced.
And these sites can be created quickly. According to WHOIS data, the Pleon Ketchum merger site was registered on 29 May 2009 and the merger announced around two weeks later. Seemingly day by day, It's becoming easier and cheaper to create an impressive fully-functioning multimedia site.
These microsites are going to become increasingly common as companies aim to get their side of the story out to information hungry stakeholders who, in the Google age, have come to expect answers to their questions straightaway. If there isn’t a microsite to give them the wealth of information they are looking for, the company stands to lose its voice and ultimately control of the message.