Busted M&A Deals Signal Need for Grassroots Advocacy

May 23, 2016
Jim Gianiny, President

When more than $400 billion worth of deals dry up, maybe it’s time to rethink the strategy. Advocacy campaigns have elevated to the status of ‘must have’ for successful public affairs efforts. The M&A market would benefit from a similar approach.

Almost a decade ago, summarized the failed Delta, U.S. Airways merger—valued at $10 billion—this way, “The proposed hostile takeover of Delta has won big on Wall Street, but it never gathered much backing on Main Street.”

Main Street’s influence has grown exponentially since then. Whether the goal is to promote or discourage a potential merger, identifying, engaging and mobilizing the audiences whose core beliefs and values intersect with your priorities is essential. These third-party voices help communicate the far-reaching support for your position, provide cover for contentious perspectives, and can neutralize opposition messages and those delivering them. As the issue advocacy arena has demonstrated time and again, the ability to execute on this front drives results that change outcomes.

Successful public affairs campaigns directly connect with those who stand with them on critical issues while providing the communication platforms where their voices can be heard. They foster those relationships in ways that educate and engage the most influential supporters. Once connected to the cause, these influencers communicate their passions inside of their own spheres of influence—a true force multiplier.

Much of this is made possible because social media has created a never-before-seen dynamic between consumer and brand. The ability for both to directly connect has never been easier, and expectations never higher. Properly leveraged, corporations have the ability to build tremendous momentum behind their most critical causes. Daily monitoring of the online conversations combined with a robust rapid-response apparatus ensures they can engage with the right people, at the right time, and in a manner that drives action.

The ease with which we communicate on a global stage today is certainly staggering. However, social media platforms alone are not enough. The ability to meaningfully engage locally is an equally essential component in driving desired outcomes.

Highly targeted, on-the-ground engagement can make or break a campaign’s success. Applying direct pressure in legislative districts at the federal, state, or local levels creates an echo-chamber effect that, when properly executed, is heard on Wall Street and resonates in the ears of the regulators controlling the fate of any given M&A deal.

In the communication paradigm of today, it is important to remember the conversations surrounding your most critical issues are happening with or without you. Engage.


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