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To merge or not to merge, that is the question: Six tips if the answer is ‘Yes’

Posted by Debby Penton on 2nd August 2011

International tech PR agency, EML Wildfire has been around now for three short months, and so far so good. Je ne regrette rien!

And while things are going well, I’m in by no means in a position to crow about how to make a merger work – there is a long road ahead of us yet.

But, as PR agency consolidation is rife, I thought it might be useful to share a few of the things I think we got right, or learned along the way for anyone out there considering a similar move to the one EML & Wildfire PR made 90 days ago.

1. Get the best advisors money can buy

If, like us, you’ve never ventured into anything like this before, then you need someone more experienced to guide you through this, often, complicated process.  And you will need more than one person, at least three in fact:

  • An M&A advisor who can help you negotiate the best deal and explain what everything means
  • A lawyer to draw up the agreements and baffle you with legalese
  • And a tax lawyer to advise how much you need to cough up to the Inland Revenue.

2. Be prepared

Even if you’re only considering your options at this stage, it’s never too early to make sure you’ve got your house in order, and are completely ready to face Death by Due Diligence.  Things you thought you would never need; you do.  Documents you were sure you had; you won’t be able to find.  And questions you never thought you’d need the answer to; you’ll be asked…You get the picture.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Once you’re ready to disclose your plans to your loyal employees, internal comms becomes a huge part of the process.  However much you prepare, you will never have thought of all the questions that are likely to come your way.

Remember, that while you’ve been living and breathing the merger or acquisition for months before you make it public, your teams have not. So, keep talking, but not so much that you forget to listen as well!

4. What’s in it for me?

No, not you!  Everyone can guess what’s in it for you.  What’s in it for everyone else?  How will your employees and clients benefit from the merger?  Get this bit very clear before you start communicating.

5. Integrate early

If you want the world to see you as one agency, and recognise the strengths of the sum of the two parts, then you need to make sure you behave as one agency, as early as possible.

Spend time together before the merger if you can, move in together ideally (many mergers falter because the companies merge in name, but don’t physically share an office), develop new ways of doing things, and do everything you can to eradicate a ‘them and us’ mentality.

6. Be patient

Finally, remember that like wine and cheese all good things take time to develop and mature.  A new company culture cannot be rushed, but will emerge over time.

We’re in the fledging stages of this new tech PR agency’s life, and there are exciting times ahead, but it will take a few more months before we are truly one company from the inside out.  Fortunately, we’ve found the secret to oiling the wheels of this merger, is through the liberal application of the afore mentioned ingredients: wine and cheese!

If any of readers of this post have been through any sort of M&A, I’d love to hear any tips for success or potential obstacles that you’d like to share.



Debby Penton

Motivated, competitive and highly experienced, Debby drives excellence across the agency and leads by example, going the extra mile to create stand-out campaigns and a dynamic agency culture. As CEO, Debby champions a new breed of PR that meets the evolving communication needs of today’s tech companies.