That was the case this weekend when the man sitting next to me was a former Wall Street banker who sold his firm and now concentrates on private investments. It sounds like a nice gig if you can get it. He asked me what news sources I rely upon to follow trends in business and he was surprised to learn my opinion that the traditional nameplates really, most often, still do serve best. He said, though, in today’s media environment, it’s a challenge to find the real “meat” of mergers and acquisitions news because, as he put it, “No offense, but most press releases are bullish*t.”
None taken, Buddy. None taken whatsoever. Nowhere is stereotypical corporate PR BS on display bigger and bolder than when it comes to announcing “M&A” deals. Here are a few gems from just a quick search of recent releases:
-“We are thrilled about the unique opportunities this merger will create for our consumers worldwide, as well as our employees and business partners.”
-“Today’s announcement is a transformative step in our objective to become the industry leader…”
-“This acquisition supports our strategy to provide a…connection for consumers, creators and advertisers to deliver that premium customer experience.”
As is so often the case, releases and their quotes are written primarily for the executives who made the deal, with not enough thought given to the audiences that may be able to rely on the releases for information. Rarely do these announcements spell out the “why” of a deal, beyond buzzwords and platitudes. Usually, that’s for business journalists to find out and there are fewer and fewer of them each year.
So, if my wedding reception neighbor doesn’t trust press releases and the stories that result from them to get the information he needs, where does he turn? He says he frustratingly has to “dig” on this own to find the story behind the story, importantly, details on funding sources being used.
I’m not asking for sympathy for the “private investor” who has to track down information on this own time. But, it would seem companies coming together are doing it, among other reasons, to attract new investment. Their cliche driven press releases not only make our eyes roll, they may turn off one of the audiences they’re trying to interest. That’s something that should be considered in “The C Suites.”