Going for growth? Don’t set off without PR

29/06/2021 10:01:30
In the current economic climate there are fewer PR stories more positive than company growth and acquisitions – a sure sign that your business is heading in the right direction and acquiring the best talent. 

But how can PR be an asset to your acquisition strategy?

We spoke to Nick Houghton, CEO of the Yorkshire headquartered JMG group, about how PR has supported the insurance broker’s growth and acquisition plans. Since November 2020, the senior team at JMG has completed a private equity-backed management buyout at the firm, and acquired two specialist insurance brokers. This has taken the group to a £75 million Gross Written Premium (GWP) business, employing 165 people across 12 group companies in nine locations across the UK.
Nick attributes the group’s success to having a solid, transparent growth and acquisition strategy, to finding and recruiting the best talent to lead individual group businesses, and to using PR to tell the company’s story. The business is a regular in “earned media” spots – frequently featuring in publications such as the Yorkshire Post, Insider Media and TheBusinessDesk alongside insurance industry news sites and journals. 

The benefits of PR as part of your expansion strategy speak for themselves, both pre- and post-acquisition:

Brand awareness and building your employer brand

Nick believes that telling the story of a business and its growth plans helps to foster interest and trust in your brand, which is crucial as you look to attract new people to the business and open discussions around potential acquisitions. This underpins the importance of earned media: keeping your brand visible in relevant business or industry publications with an interesting and valuable story to tell. We’re not talking about paid placement; we are talking genuine PR opportunities that demonstrate the strengths, successes, and longevity of your company – good news for all stakeholders.

Working your networks

Of course any PR agency worth their salt knows that there is more than one way to attract attention. You can also use “owned” media: creating and sharing your own content on your website, blogs and social channels.

Using growth and acquisition stories as fodder for blog posts, social content and email marketing all helps to broaden the reach of your brand and highlight growth messages. Often, it can also be a springboard to earned media, encouraging journalists to link to your stories. With the right eyes on your content, it can even spark further acquisition opportunities.

Maximise your networks

Using PR to reassure 

Acquisitions can be sensitive for the businesses being acquired as they adjust to new ownership, management, values and business culture. Once again, we go back to the importance of communicating your brand values as an organisation and building trust.

“Sustained PR activity will help you develop a solid portfolio of positive, brand-building stories, demonstrating and reinforcing your company culture for anyone who is looking to join the business as an employee, or who may become part of the group via an acquisition,” says Nick. 

For example, if you are actively supporting local charities, community projects or the arts, if your team is committed to hitting a fundraising target, sharing these stories alongside the corporate growth and success stories will help present a positive and well-rounded picture of your company. One simple Google will give people applying for a role with you or moving across to become part of your business following an acquisition a good feel for the organisation they are joining.

Keeping customers happy

Who else needs to trust you other than your staff? Your customers!

Nick advises that external communications helps to keep current clients in the loop when there is change in the business. “If it’s simply business as usual, tell customers that.  If they now have access to a wider range of product and services, tell them. External communication presents an important opportunity to reposition the business and the benefits to clients that an acquisition creates.”

Better internal cohesion

Let’s not forget that a good PR firm can help you with internal communications, too. Be it intranet content or internal newsletters, communication helps keep your team in the loop as the business grows, supports the integration of new businesses and teams into the wider group, and helps to form relationships between those businesses.

“Acquisitions can be daunting for everyone involved. A solid internal communications strategy helps to allay concerns and answer key questions upfront, building foundations for strong long-term relationships.” says Nick.

The takeaways

Remember, if you’re on the acquisition trail, PR can be a real asset. Plan your PR strategy in tandem with the acquisition process to start building visibility and trust from the outset. A solid PR strategy can help to:
    Build trust through transparency
    Lead to further acquisition opportunities
    Reassure your customers
    Prevent tension between companies post-acquisition
    Build stronger long-term relationships.

We are pleased and proud to have supported Nick and his team through the last five years of the JMG group’s growth, and look forward to more exciting times ahead.

For help with your acquisition PR strategy, talk to us.

Contact us today