DETROIT: Ford executive director of corporate communications Jim
Vella is taking on the top communications job in the wake of William
Clay Ford Jr's appointment as the car giant's CEO.
Vella will become vice-president, corporate communications this week,
following the ousting of Jason Vines, who was deposed CEO Jac Nasser's
One of Vella's immediate priorities will be to deal with the media
fallout over the public rift between Ford and Nasser, forced out of the
company last week.
Rumours of Nasser's expulsion had been circulating in auto circles for
A series of setbacks, including the Ford-Firestone tyre controversy,
quality problems with Ford models and falling profits, had tarnished
Nasser's reputation over the past two years.
Vella will need to position Ford Jr as taking decisive action to right
the company's recent wrongs.
The new CEO is well-regarded in the industry and has won over the
environmental movement by calling for Ford to make its vehicles more
Since taking over the top spot, he has also said that he plans to
address profitability and quality issues.
Internally, Vella will need to address issues of worker morale brought
on by ongoing cost-cutting and workforce reductions initiated by
Ford generally handles PR and crisis communications internally, having
no agency of record, although it has previously employed US agencies
including Strat@comm and John Bailey & Associates for ad hoc project
work for various products and divisions.
Vella's main rival for the top spot was Joe Greenwell, vice-president of
communications and public affairs at Ford Europe. Vines leaves Ford
after taking the company's top PR role in February 2000.
He told PRWeek US he had known he would be a casualty of the management
shake-up that saw the departure of his former boss Nasser.
Industry speculation suggests Vines is in the running for another job in
the car industry, with rumours hinting at the top PR job at