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
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.