But all of this M&A activity isn't confined to just large, global companies. Small, profitable companies are quite attractive acquisition bait to medium- to large-sized businesses that want to attain critical mass or a capability that would fill a vacuum in their own product or service offerings.
Whether your company is looking to acquire or be acquired, a strong and effective public relations program can greatly improve your efforts. In fact, according to a report by Opinion Research Corp. and some of the country's leading merger advisers, corporate image can play a major part in what sells a company and its products-and at what price.
PR and the bottom line
First, an effective public relations plan will help your bottom line. Public relations will create more awareness among your customers and prospects. It will generate leads and inquiries. And, PR can position your company as being progressive, knowledgeable and a leader in your field.
These efforts will increase sales and hopefully build more customer loyalty and a higher customer-retention rate.
PR and corporate image
While most public relations plans focus on generating leads and sales-immediate gratification-implementing a plan to enhance your corporate image is more of a long-term investment, but one that can definitely pay off.
"Goodwill" is more than an abstract concept to describe how others perceive your company. It is an important factor in valuing your company. Your reputation and credibility in your industry-and potential for growth-can be worth a lot of dollars and cents when you sell.
Speaking to your people
A comprehensive corporate-image program will first take a look at the positive and negative images of your company. The next step is to identify the image that you want to project for your company, such as fast-growing, well-managed or positioned for the future. Think in terms of specific ways in which your company is different from the competition and focus on these competitive advantages.
Then identify your audiences and the specific messages to be communicated to each. For example:
- Customers and prospects: Use your internal resources and outside research to identify direct and indirect customers.
Employees-Communicating to this important group can build a sense of teamwork and togetherness, increase employee retention and help recruit talented and skilled workers. As the saying goes, "A company is only as good as its people."
- Investors: Communicate regularly with shareholders about the happenings within your company. Plus, keeping analysts, brokers and the rest of the investment world well informed can help you gain new investors and, quite possibly, suitors for your firm.
- Suppliers: This group can be the lifeline of your firm and needs to be strongly considered when developing your plan.
Industry trade organizations-Become more involved in professional and/or trade organizations to increase awareness of your company and your key managers.
- The media: As with any public relations initiative, it's critical to establish and maintain relationships with local news and business media, as well as regional and national industry and trade media contacts.
The bottom line: Any investment you make in strengthening your organization's reputation and standing in the industry will help you to attract potential buyers and can actually help you increase the perceived value of your company. Or, if you are looking to acquire, a positive corporate image will make you more attractive to the companies looking to sell.
Jeff Krakoff is president of Krakoff Communications Inc., a Pittsburgh-based marketing communications consulting firm. Comments and questions can be sent via e-mail to email@example.com.