Mergers and Acquisitions in Comms
M&As for days…
Last Monday, we had the opportunity to chat with not one, but TWO experts about mergers and acquisitions in comms during our infamous biweekly #PRChat.
James Herring, CEO and Creative at Taylor Herring, came in with juicy personal experience, as he recently sold his agency to Publicis Groupe.
Andrew Bloch is a board advisor of PCB Partners and NED of Frank PR. He wears many hats, but joined today’s chat to provide M&A insight as an advisor to PCB Partners, a boutique M&A advisory firm that has undertaken numerous successful deals in the marketing services space.
Now, let’s see what they had to say!
What are M&As and why are they important in the PR industry?
M&As are a great case of 1 + 1 = 3 (if done successfully).
Bloch summarized this intended dynamic, saying, “M&A’s create synergies in which the combined company is worth more than the two companies individually.”
You can probably start to imagine why these dynamics are hugely important in the PR industry. Bloch shared just a few of the positive outcomes that can come from successful M&As:
- Increased breadth and depth of services to increase market share
- Ability to unlock client growth
- Creating economies of scale
Herring was able to speak from personal experience as well, because he very recently sold to Publicis Groupe, a $10 billion global marketing services group.
Darryl Sparey, MD and Co-founder of Hard Numbers, chimes in by giving a solid example of an M&A gone right:
What are some challenges to consider before a M&A?
There are a lot of boxes to check before jumping into an M&A.
Our experts seemed to agree that ensuring the various companies will mesh with their guiding principles and respective cultures is one of the most important things…
“It’s all about finding a good cultural/commercial fit that’ll set you up for long-term success,” said Herring. “When considering a suitor, you need to make sure you find a like-minded partner that shares your values. [And] take your time. We spent 6-9 months chatting to agency heads across the Publicis Groupe and talking informally about the opportunity and its potential.”
What happens if the dynamics just… don’t match up?
Nigel Sarbutts, founder of The PR Cavalry, shares how things can get pretty messy if everyone is not on the same page across organizations:
As we can see, a key challenge in this process is finding what our experts call, a “good acquirer.”
“A good acquirer won't want to destroy the value of the entity they are buying,” said Bloch. “Objectives should be mutually aligned around protecting what it was that made the company successful in the first place.”
Psssst! I hope you’re taking notes! This advice is sage.
Bloch also offered a checklist of some of the most important things to keep in mind when considering M&As:
How do you set up your new agency for success after a merger or acquisition?
Short ‘n’ sweet, from a pro advisor himself:
Herring added, “It’s still early days for us, but we’ve had a really inspiring few weeks meeting people from across their creative network. We’re moving into Publicis HQ on Aug 1st – and excited to be spending more time with new colleagues IRL.”
How can management assist their teams through a merger or acquisition?
Be there every step of the way, for everyone on the team. From his latest merge experience, Herring shared:
And, make sure the whole team understands the added value that the merge/acquisition brings, beyond just financial benefits.
Aaand… one final checklist from Bloch on how management can set up a M&A for success:
- Create a compelling vision.
- Set a series of goals.
- Engage every function and level.
Now, who’s ready to merge, sell, or acquire??!
And... To learn more about Propel PRM, feel free to book a demo with our team below!