Today Avis announced that it was acquiring Zipcar for nearly $500 million.

Considering that Zipcar has about 767,000 drivers, the brand couldn’t remain idle and simply allow the imaginations of its members to run rampant. The public craves information—particularly in the wake of a major development like this—and if companies fail to implement an effective follow-up PR campaign, then they risk having public opinion create the narrative, which isn’t always desirable.

Take, for example, these comments on a New York Times article announcing the merger:

Patricia from New York:
Ugh. Another soul-sucking merger. Watch the quality of service disappear after this corporate meal is finished. Burp

Lynn in DC:
I like Zipcar and am apprehensive that the changes to be brought about by Avis will not be good for consumers. Oh well, guess I may have to actually buy a car at some point now.

A Reader, from Detroit, MI:
What a shame. One of the things I really liked about Zipcar was that it was not Avis or Hertz.

This is exactly why brands and companies must develop a well-articulated PR strategy and put it in place before the public has a chance to react. Brands can’t expect consumers to express informed opinions without first providing them with the information they need.

In general the public hates mergers. As capitalists, we all like to think that our purchases are positive reflections of us and our values, particularly when it comes to supporting innovative, creative and lesser-known brands.

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