Two Execs Split PR Responsibilities at Ford
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Two Execs Split PR Responsibilities at Ford

James Vella has been named vice president of corporate public affairs, responsible for corporate issues. Joseph Greenwell, who was VP of communications for Ford in Europe, will be vice president of automotive and product promotions.

Paul Holmes

DETROIT, November 14—Given that relationship problems were cited as one reason for the recent dismissal of Ford chief executive Jacques Nasser, it came as no surprise that vice president of corporate communications Jason Vines was one of the first senior executives to follow Nasser out the door. But what did surprise some observers was the fact that Vines’ position was judged to be too much for a single executive and was split between two of his heirs apparent.
 
James Vella, a 12-year veteran of the Ford public relations staff, has been named vice president of corporate public affairs, responsible for corporate issues including the ongoing Ford-Firestone crisis. Joseph Greenwell, who was vice president of communications for Ford in Europe, will be vice president of global automotive and product promotions, responsible for product and marketing communications.
 
Eyebrows were further raised when it became appear that neither man would report to the new chief executive, Bill Ford. Greenwell will report to chief operating officer Nick Scheele, while Vella will report to Martin Zimmerman, group vice president of corporate affairs. That’s the result of Ford’s very different leadership style: while Nasser had between 14 and 16 direct reports, Ford will have only three.
 
Even though he won’t have a senior PR executive reporting to him, Ford is likely to make communications a priority. “I’m going to spend a lot of time with employees and dealers and the government, rebuilding relationships,” he told reporters shortly after the management transition. In the past, he has been an outspoken proponent of improved environmental performance in the automotive industry and increased candor on social performance.
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