Editorial: Communications begins at home

The idea of a hostile takeover of a people business such as a PR agency would strike most people as absurd. The cost in terms of staff and client defections would make it a complete non-starter.

The idea of a hostile takeover of a people business such as a PR

agency would strike most people as absurd. The cost in terms of staff

and client defections would make it a complete non-starter.



But even agreed bids and mergers have to be properly managed. It is now

a month since Omnicom bought Fleishman-Hillard and revealed it was

planning to combine it with Porter Novelli under the umbrella of a new

holding company.



Since then there has been little or no information about the likely

consequences of the move in terms of the merger of offices - either to

the press or to the staff and rumours are starting to fly. Left

unresolved this situation will inevitably cause disquiet among staff and

clients. For a company which sells itself on its communications

expertise it is surprising that internal communications should take a

back seat in this kind of deal.



Looking outside the industry, many have praised the leak-free handling

of the Guinness and Grand Metropolitan merger. Certainly the

announcement to the City and the press was beautifully choreographed,

but what of the staff? Apparently, those at Grand Met were informed of

the move by way of a note on their desks on the Monday morning. They

then had to wait until Tuesday for a briefing by their chairman - so

tied up was he in briefing meetings on Monday.



There has been much talk of the importance of building a strong company

culture. If it is ever to be more than just talk, it is vital that

internal communications is put at the top of the agenda.



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