Ford nabs Nissan vet to drive its PR machine

DEARBORN, MI: It took a while, but Ford has finally found its man.

DEARBORN, MI: It took a while, but Ford has finally found its man.

DEARBORN, MI: It took a while, but Ford has finally found its

man.



The auto giant scored a major coup last week, luring highly regarded

auto PR pro Jason Vines away from Nissan North America and installing

him as the company’s top voice.



The search, necessitated when CEO Jac Nasser shifted Vaughn Koshkarian

overseas to head Ford/Asia Pacific, was a lengthy one, marked by

significantly more intrigue than is usually seen in the tight-knit world

of automotive PR. Insiders had whispered that Ford was dead set on

hiring a woman and was looking outside the auto business for worthy

candidates. Another source said Nasser extended the job to a female PR

pro at a major industrial company, only to be turned down.



In an interview with PRWeek, Nasser said he was thrilled with the end

result, regardless of the difficulty of the search. ’I’ve had my eye on

Jason for a long time. I saw Jason do some good work, some of it so good

it irritated me.’



Nasser wouldn’t comment on the speculation that Ford had looked outside

the industry to fill the post. He noted, however, that auto experience

wasn’t a ’must have’ on his list of criteria. ’We wanted to make sure

that we had an individual who understood the business of

communications,’ he said.



Nasser is known as a no-nonsense, high-energy executive, a factor some

thought would put a great deal of pressure on the person who accepted

the post. But Vines, who starts at Ford today, said he anticipates few

difficulties: ’I’m pretty open and frank. Jac’s energy level is

incredible and I’ll just try to match it.’



Vines’ appointment received rave reviews. Though only 40, he boasts a

long list of auto PR credits, including 15 years at Chrysler under Steve

Harris (now head of GM PR) and two years in Washington, DC with the

American Automobile Manufacturers Association.



’It’s an absolutely brilliant move on Ford’s part,’ Harris said. Added

Steve Rossi, VP of global communications for Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge at

DaimlerChrysler, ’We now have three gentlemen running the three PR

operations.’



Clearly shocked by Vines’ departure, Nissan said it will immediately

start its search for a new VP of external affairs.



- See editorial, p20





BIG THREE LINEUP



DaimlerChrysler: Steve Rossi, VP, global communications,

Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge; moved from heading PR for Mercedes-Benz of North

America after a February 1999 reorganization of the merged

DaimlerChrysler PR staff.



The skinny: Boasts experience with Saab and Ford.





Ford: Jason Vines, VP communications; hired away from Nissan North

America this month



The skinny: Comes with experience at Nissan, Chrysler and the American

Automobile Manufacturers Association.





General Motors: Steve Harris, VP communications; hired away from

DaimlerChrysler Feb. 8, 1999



The skinny: Two months after joining GM, lured several key PR people

from Chrysler.



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