DETROIT - Hand-in-hand with William Clay Ford Jr's installation as Ford's new CEO, Jim Vella, executive director of corporate communications, is poised to take the top job of VP, corporate communications.
His likely appointment follows the ousting of Jason Vines, deposed CEO Jac Nasser's right-hand man. An official announcement of Vella's promotion is expected early this week.
Vella has experience working with new CEO, William Clay Ford Jr. He will need to deal with the media fallout over the very public rift between Ford and Nasser, who was forced out of the company last week.
Rumours of Nasser's expulsion had been circulating for months, following a series of setbacks, including the Ford-Firestone tire controversy, quality problems with Ford models, and falling profits.
Ford Jr initially stayed in the background during the Firestone battle, but began raising his visibility this year as talk circulated that the Ford family was becoming increasingly concerned about Nasser's handling of tough issues.
Vella will need to position Ford Jr as taking decisive action to right the company's recent wrongs. Internally, he will need to address issues of worker morale brought on by ongoing cost-cutting and workforce reductions initiated by Nasser.
Ford generally handles tough PR challenges internally, having no agency of record, although it has used agencies such as Strat@comm and John Bailey & Associates for various products or divisions.
Vella's chief rival for the top spot was Joe Greenwell, VP of communications and public affairs with Ford Europe.
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