Merger fallout.

One of the problems of writing a column for a monthly publication in today’s fast moving world of mergers is that one risks discussing events that will be old news by the time it gets published.

That’s not to say one can’t be topical. But the current rapidity of change is awesome.

Convergence used to mean “meeting at the same point”- like backing into your neighbour’s car.

Lately it seems to relate more to the old theory about winning if you have the most toys when you die.

Mind you, most of the recent corporate consolidations have a consistent theme. It seems that “content” and “pipelines” and “delivery systems” are the prime assets of value. Perhaps “licences” are becoming less important – along with national boundaries.

And the power of the Internet now looms large on the screens of corporate executives who have only recently discovered how to turn their computer on.

TV networks, sports franchises, newspapers, Internet radio, data banks, magazines, phone companies, retail outlets and search engines are only a few of the oft mentioned cherished resources that are being eagerly pursued.

Experienced, capable and high profile captains to steer these emerging entities through uncharted shoals are in frenzied and expensive demand. Even consultants are enjoying the boom.

So where does the little guy/gal fit into all this one might ask?

If you are a local or a national rep for a broadcaster what does the future hold for you? And who is going to sketch this particular piece of blue sky clearly for you?

In your company you may have already seen sales people and managers moving into exciting “new media” sales and development departments. Some of these innovations seem to have erupted with much fanfare but little information for existing staff. New people may have been brought in to handle jobs you might have applied for.

Middle managers of “convergence affected” firms are probably the least comfortable of all in the current climate. Ownership changes and strategic shifts generally have the most dramatic impact at this level. Especially if you are employed by the “convergee.”

Just about every notice of merger or acquisition carries with it the reassuring mantra that very few staff changes are anticipated. In fact, most of these announcements suggest substantial new hires are inevitable.

History suggests that only change is inevitable.

In time, the new consolidated company establishes staff requirements relative to realistic needs. Opportunity is usually enhanced for those who demonstrate productivity.

So it is important during a period of transition that existing personnel demonstrate a willingness to adapt, learn and indeed embrace change. Avoid negative observations – be optimistic.

For while it may be true that the capacities of content and delivery are the engines driving the rationale of merger mania the ultimate reality is that it is the staff who are the troops who will make the campaign strategy successful.

Educated marketing management will combine with an energetic sales team to play an expanded and vital role .The demands for training, knowledge and creativity will be accelerated as pre requisites for success. However it is a fact that these characteristics are already essential characteristics in the broadcast business pre-consolidation.

It will be necessary for senior management of firms involved in this sea change communicate effectively with staff regarding the evolution. It will be insufficient to merely provide visionary press release type commentary to affected employees. Of course this will be exciting in the near term but will do little to relieve the anxiety of someone who has just negotiated a six-figure mortgage on their dream home.

Specific details of the short term impact of change should be conveyed throughout the chain of command and to the staff in a planned, orderly manner.

My personal experience includes a failure to adequately communicate basic details of a corporate merger to my staff. This resulted in unnecessary confusion and anxiety that could have been avoided with better preparation on my part.

Rather than restrict the opportunities for success and growth this new emerging landscape offers enormous potential for individuals in sales who are prepared to accept the challenge.

Remember – nothing happens until somebody sells something!