EDITORIAL: Ford moves its PR into the fast lane

It took them a while, but it seems that Ford’s top executives have once again decided to get serious about PR.

It took them a while, but it seems that Ford’s top executives have once again decided to get serious about PR.

It took them a while, but it seems that Ford’s top executives have

once again decided to get serious about PR.



Last week’s coup of stealing Jason Vines away from Nissan to fill Ford’s

top communications slot - the equivalent of PR grand larceny - marks an

end to what will be remembered as a schizophrenic period in the auto

giant’s communications. CEO Jac Nasser shifted head of China operations

Vaughn Koshkarian into the VP of public affairs post, only to move him

back into a full-time role in Asia less than a year later. During this

back-and-forth, Ford lost top voices (and possible successors) to Boeing

and Gateway.



Whether Vines will give Ford the stability it once enjoyed under Dave

Scott (who held the top PR post from 1986 to December 1998) is anyone’s

guess. But his track record at Nissan as well as Nasser’s seemingly

newfound acknowledgement of PR’s importance bodes well for the

company.



Most encouraging was Nasser’s comment that auto industry experience was

not a ’must-have’ on his list of qualifications for the top spot. ’We

wanted an individual who understood the business of communications.’

Nasser has just that in Vines, whose work at Nissan he described as ’so

good it irritated me.’



Vines’ ascension could also mark the beginning of a golden era in

automotive PR. The country’s three biggest automakers - Ford (Vines),

General Motors (Steve Harris) and DaimlerChrysler (Steve Rossi) - have

each vested their top communications pros with more responsibility than

ever before. Given the way other industries have followed the lead of

the auto business, perhaps it won’t be too long before they too put more

of their fate in the hands of PR pros.



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