COMMENT: Editorial - Regret does pay for Ford, Nasser

When Ford CEO Jacques Nasser appeared in the first of a series of paid commercials, publicly apologizing for the tire crisis, it surely was a victory for Jason Vines and his PR team.

When Ford CEO Jacques Nasser appeared in the first of a series of paid commercials, publicly apologizing for the tire crisis, it surely was a victory for Jason Vines and his PR team.

When Ford CEO Jacques Nasser appeared in the first of a series of paid commercials, publicly apologizing for the tire crisis, it surely was a victory for Jason Vines and his PR team.

Some have questioned the wisdom of Nasser's appearance before the cameras.

He has an Australian accent, which is (apparently) off-putting to some Americans. He looked stiff and nervous, too. And there was a notable absence of graphics to ram home key action points. Still others have cast doubt upon the need for a paid commercial. Can't they use VNRs and press conferences to get their message across?

All this quibbling misses the point, which is that Nasser is out there, up front and personal. With a spate of class action lawsuits emerging; with Congress investigating; with the media finding new angles every day, it would have been all too easy for Nasser to limit his PR activity and to rely upon legal counsel for the most part.

That would have been a disaster. Ford's crisis is all the more problematic because the story is leaking out slowly (no pun intended). But Nasser has taken ownership of this issue; he has shown himself to be responsive to public opinion (he initially refused to testify before Congress); he has taken drastic action, including halting production at three plants; he has promised to keep people informed of developments. In short, Nasser and the PR team are using a wide range of PR tactics and platforms (including advertising).

Of course, all this is no guarantee that Ford won't be harmed by the crisis, but as an exercise in damage limitation, the fact that Ford has stopped slavishly listening to its lawyers is a sign of major progress.



Krispy Kreme's tasty PR

In the four months since its IPO, the share price of doughnut maker Krispy Kreme has risen fourfold. Put that down to three things: an unexpectedly high (40%) increase in earnings; they taste great; and PR.

A story in the Financial Times last week perfectly described the strategy.

Krispy Kreme has eschewed advertising and sponsorship in favor of what's described as a 'viral' marketing technique. Doughnuts are given out at local schools and charities, which can resell them at a profit. When it enters a new market, free doughnuts are delivered to major offices in hope that news will spread. The doughnuts even worked on investors at the IPO roadshows.

There were certain facets of the PR strategy that the FT missed - like the zeroing in on the media, especially morning TV and radio shows - bearing gifts, of course. Different story angles are developed for food, lifestyle and business reporters. And when new stores open, an ambassador program is developed focusing on nonprofit, community organizations and leaders, alumni associations and corporate leaders.

But most obviously missing was that - hey guess what - Krispy Kreme is doing great PR. Journalists call this viral marketing or word-of-mouth or cause-related marketing. But in reality, it's PR, pure and simple.



And very effective.

If you've got a good story to tell (and you're sick and tired of not getting any credit for it), enter the PRWeek Awards. Call Danielle Rouchon on 212-532-9200.





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