Puzzle graphic

Bank Merger Communications: Getting to “Approved,” Piece by Piece

By Laura DeLaCruz, Director of Project Management and Business Development

In a bank merger, customer impacts are not fully understood at the beginning of a communications project, and business decisions are made (and changed) multiple times throughout the process. So how does one get to a finished product when all the information is not clearly defined?

While the end result is a communications package that clearly explains change information, including an attractive brochure filled with details about the customer’s accounts and services and new opportunities for them, the start-up is often a daunting task.

In situations like these, it’s helpful to compare the project start up to  putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle: You open the box and marvel at the chaos inside—different shapes, colors, and upside down pieces—where do you start?  The answer is “somewhere, anywhere.”

With a puzzle, it helps to break the job down into manageable chunks:

  1. Remove all the edge pieces from the box and shut the box—for now let’s just focus on the outline.
  2. Carefully piece together the border—try a trial-and-error approach until you find the right fit.
  3. Once the border is complete, go back to the cover image and find a section you want to work on—maybe choose a section that is easily identifiable by color—and then find and remove those pieces from the box. Then close the box again.
  4. Work little by little on sections, while keeping an eye on the box cover to monitor your overall progress.
  5. Eventually, you’ll find you’re gaining some momentum. You’ll begin to be able to spot pieces in the box and know exactly where they belong.
  6. Before you know it, the puzzle is done!

Following this analogy for complex change communications projects:

  • Create an outline of topics that need to be covered
    • What, exactly, are the impacts to the client?
    • Will there be a temporary interruption in services?
    • What actions does the client need to take?
    • How are different audiences impacted differently?
  • Fill in what you know
    • If details are not provided or unavailable, count on MKP’s deep experience to fill the gaps.
    • Put a stake in the ground! Rely on a previous project with similar customer impacts.
  • Keep track of all loose ends
    • Mark copy that needs to be provided or confirmed in a different color until it can be verified
    • Encourage conversations among colleagues and different business lines to home in on the open issues
  • Chip away a little at time
    • Use each subsequent round of review as an opportunity to fill in the blanks, confirm facts, and fully flesh out the information
    • Just keep writing and editing until you have the final approval!

So, trust the process. It’s not always easy, but if you go into the assignment knowing that the first draft may be incomplete, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the uncertainty along the way. And, when you put that final piece in place and deliver the final product, you can feel proud and confident that you have created a work of art, one that answers questions, guides customers to a perfect understanding, and sets their expectations to embrace the changes that await them.

MKP communications inc. is a New York City-based communications company that delivers spot-on strategy, smart, fresh creative, and flawless execution, exclusively for financial services clients.