In 2001, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Compaq began preparing for the largest technology merger in history. To effectively communicate company information to 150,000 employees, Porter Novelli worked with pre-merger HP and Compaq staff to design, position and promote a new integrated intranet portal, @hp.
 It was clear that following the merger, intranet portals from the two pre-merger companies needed to be integrated. It was critical to promote one portal as the key internal communication channel for the new HP, to avoid confusion and ensure that employees received vital information from the right source, on day one.
The program and its elements were developed and executed within an extremely short timeframe. There were less than four months to prepare for and communicate merger messages to all employees.
HP and Compaq conducted an audit of both the Compaq portal (Inline) and HP portal (@hp) to determine which site structure would be used. Research concluded that @hp would be the vehicle for the new company.
To ensure compliance with SEC regulations prior to the merger, the team completed required legal training sessions. From the training, designated team members could liaise directly with counterparts in the opposite company to research content, develop messaging and obtain appropriate approvals.
 The team worked closely with corporate and HR staff to reinforce portal messaging in other cross-company communications efforts. This was a critical step, which provided a positive and consistent employee experience across both sets of pre-merger employees on day one.
The target audiences were 80,000 pre-merger HP employees and 70,000 pre-merger Compaq employees. The objective was to establish @hp as the primary source of merger and company information to employees in the new HP.
A communication action plan with specific program milestones and integration points was developed. Positioning and messaging documents were created to ensure that consistent messages about @hp were communicated globally.
Two sets of communication materials were developed to target pre-merger Compaq and HP employees, including FAQs, backgrounders, “How To” reference guides and an interactive flash-based online demo.
“Pointer articles” were developed to alert pre-merger employees of the new @hp. These articles were posted to the intranet sites of both pre-merger companies.
The online demo provided employees a visual, guided tour of the combined portal. The demo reinforced portal messaging, provided an overview of @hp’s navigation and features and summarized key changes for each of the legacy portals.
In addition, staff across both pre-merger companies were preparing new Web content for the portal. To facilitate this process, an introductory kit was designed to answer questions about templates and Web content. The kit enabled staff to launch content in the new @hp environment.
HP developed and implemented a strategic Service Provider Program, which combined the best features of both pre-merger portals to accelerate the development and delivery of new services to @hp. The program provides the information and tools necessary to integrate new services within the portal structure.
As part of the program, monthly forums are held to cover the guidelines, technologies and practices that must be utilized. The forums are interactive and include live presentations, frequent question-and-answer periods and discussions among participants.
Service providers also receive a monthly newsletter, “Stay Connected,” and have access to a Get Connected @hp website. Both resources provide general portal integration information and updates.
 A comprehensive crisis communications plan detailed appropriate processes, actions and messages to use in case of a crisis. The @hp communications team collaborated with the HP IT support team to develop potential crisis scenarios specific to challenges the company may face on day one of the merger. The plan included a “toolkit” with targeted e-mail messages, Web banners and templates for the global @hp support team.
The portal was used as the distribution vehicle for everything from CEO and president communications, HR information and new sales kits, to IT Support and processes for getting a new name badge.
On day one of the merger, @hp presented employees with a special merger news section; brand information; video of Carly Fiorina and Michael Capellas; new organization information; sales tools and processes for the newly merged company; FAQ’s about the merger; a combined directory of contact information, enabling communication between employees from both pre-merger companies.
Prior to the merger, Compaq employees had no knowledge of @hp or its role within the organization. The communications campaign successfully increased employee awareness of the portal.
Post-merger, an employee survey showed that hits to @hp average approximately two million each day. This is compared with an approximate average of one and a half million hits before the merger.
For three months following the merger, user statistics indicated that over 88 percent of employees are satisfied with the portal overall; almost 50 percent of employees set @hp as their default homepage, and over 80 percent of employees access @hp on a weekly or more frequent basis. Employee feedback also shows positive employee attitudes about @hp as a communications vehicle. One employee wrote “I have checked the portal each day for merger updates and have been impressed with how informed we (employees) have been.”
 In order to continue the portal integration process, monthly forums with service providers were held since the first month of the merger. Since month one of the merger, 80 participants, from both pre-merger companies, have attended the monthly forums.
Additionally, a strategic council meets at quarterly forums that promote in-depth sharing and understanding of strategies, plans and issue resolution. Every major function within the new HP has been represented at the quarterly strategic council meeting.
The “Stay Connected” newsletter is also distributed to 1,400 employees within the service provider functions.
The communications efforts were vital in building awareness of the portal, and ensured that key information was seen and accessed by all employees, enabling them to feel connected to the new company.