Pair of Apple comms staffers joins Ford

Car companies have lured away three members of the consumer technology giant's comms team in recent weeks.

CUPERTINO, CA: Apple lost two PR staffers this month to Ford as the auto company continues its push into new technology spaces.

Michaela Johndrow, former director of global PR, and Colin Smith, former director of corporate communications, have exited the Cupertino, California-based technology company for Ford.

Johndrow joined the automaker last week as manager of North American Electrified Vehicles Communications at the company’s Dearborn, Michigan, headquarters. She is leading the department’s communications strategy, plans, programs, and stakeholder engagement, and supporting its position in the electric vehicle market. Johndrow is reporting to Mike Levine, manager of North America product communications.

At Apple, Johndrow was a global PR strategist, overseeing specialty retail, channel distribution, and product communications for Apple Watch. Previously, she oversaw PR for Pottery Barn.

Johndrow wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Smith led PR for Mac hardware, macOS, Swift, iWork, and pro apps. Starting on Monday, he stepped into the newly created role of head of comms for Ford Silicon Valley, leading communications for the company’s operations in Palo Alto, according to an internal memo provided by Ford. He is reporting to Karen Hampton, executive director of mobility communications.

Smith’s role will include managing influencer strategy and engaging Ford’s mobility program with the larger Silicon Valley community, as well as "global connectivity efforts" involving a car’s role in the Internet of Things.

It will also entail leading comms for Ford’s  research and innovation center in the Valley, as well as Ford Smart Mobility’s Greenfield Labs, according to the memo. He will support Ford Smart Mobility execs Raj Rao and Laura Merling.

"Solving our world's transportation issues is the next big opportunity and delivering mobility solutions that are both affordable and scaleable is in Ford’s DNA," Smith said, via email. "I think Ford can make a real difference, and I'm excited to be a part of the team."

Prior to Apple, Smith was director of PR for four business units at Cisco.

The exit of Johndrow and Smith followed the departure of Apple veteran Sarah O’Brien for Tesla, where she is senior director of communications.

Bloomberg reported last month that Apple has dramatically cut back on its automotive plans, resulting in job cuts for hundreds of staffers. The technology giant is no longer planning to build its own car, according to the report.

Ford also said in the memo that it has appointed Angie Kozleski as assistant director of mobility communications, reporting to Hampton, and Alan Hall as manager of mobility technology communications.

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