Many of you will likely have picked up the news yesterday of the cross-Atlantic merger between Sonnenschein and UK-based Denton Wilde Sapte. One element of the media push I found interesting was the use of a dedicated website, or microsite, to explain things.
It's not so much the content of the website that I found effective, but rather that the firms chose not bury the information on their respective websites. They could have each created dedicated internal pages on their websites; or, they could have taken the new combined firm domain name and started their transition process. Indecently, the domain SNRDenton.com was registered by Sonnenschein back on March 15th – so despite a June 8th Partnership vote, one would have to suspect this website is for media & client consumption, and not intended to persuade either partnership.
All in all, however, I like the approach: one topic with a defined purpose and audience, and one corresponding website that aggregates everything associated. It's faster to obtain an overview of the new operation, easier to convey the location of this information to others ( a domain name -vs- a subpage on the firm websites); and from a design perspective, allows for a simplified navigation. And in terms of change management and internal politics, I see a lot of value to using a single combined website. When we speak of balancing cultures, and business mergers generally, the sooner the two firms see themselves as a single operation, the smoother the transition (at least that's the theory…).
The dedicated website approach obviously isn't new or innovative; we see it every time the film industry launches a new movie. In the legal field though, there's a tendency to overextend the purpose of the firm website. If this was a case of a firm acquisition, perhaps the firm's media pages or press release pages would have been the better location. But in the case of two firms merging, and more importantly creating a new business entity, I think it makes complete sense.