Having your startup acquired can be a fortunate and exciting part of any entrepreneur’s life. If you’re the CEO, there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to PR and communications. This is a turning point for you. What you do and say now will be remembered, so it's important to do the right thing.
1. Be As Transparent As Possible With The Company Acquiring Your Startup
Once the deal is agreed on, (and once your lawyers give you the green light), have a game plan for exactly what you will communicate to whom, and when you will communicate it. Make sure the appropriate members of your startup are involved or at least knowledgeable about the plan, and make sure they understand the need for confidentiality. Know what days the press will be told, when the social media announcement will happen, and more. The last thing you want to do is reveal something that’s not yet supposed to be known.
2. Don’t Stop Current Communications
Keep up occasional social media posts, blogs, newsletters, and basic public relations as if everything is running as normal. Nothing says, “we’re up to something secret,” like stopping social, blog posts, newsletters, and PR efforts. If your startup has had enough attention to attract an acquisition offer, you want to be sure you keep up appearances so people don't think you've gone under, or get suspicious.
3. Have a Standby Answer for Tough Questions
Some reporters may figure out what’s going on. Make sure your startup PR representatives have a standby answer when asked about exit strategies, and that the company that’s acquiring your startup is okay with this answer. Bumbling through a reporter's question is to be avoided. You want your answer to be professional.
4. Prepare Your Messaging
As you start to think about how to announce this acquisition, go the extra mile and be proactive about preparing key messaging for your startup’s “about us” page, materials, social, and external communications. You want your customers to feel that the brand they’ve come to know and love will still be an important part of their lives, even after the acquisition.
5. Have a Personal Say In The Acquisition Announcement
Unless you’re washing your hands and walking away at the moment of acquisition (which is highly unlikely), make sure you have a hand in creating the messaging that will communicate your startup’s acquisition. Does it reflect your startup’s brand, your character, the trajectory of your personal career and vision?
Remember, what happens during and after an acquisition announcement can have a significant impact on the companies you grow in the future. Make sure you play an active role in creating your narrative.
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About the Author
Jennifer is a storyteller who connects big ideas with audiences. She specializes in public relations, brand development, and creative services for startups, theme parks, musicians, authors, nonprofits, and more. From audience awareness to brand development, and positive social change, Jennifer works with clients she believes in and that she believes she can help.