There will be subtle changes in how Ford Motor Co. communicates with the outside world - and even how it communicates with its employees - following budget cutbacks in its Public Affairs department.
Ford's in-house news and features TV channel, FCN, is going off the air next month. FCN was started more than 20 years ago to communicate with Ford employees, but it has been supplanted by the Internet.
And if Ford COO Jim Padilla and other Ford execs sound a bit different the next time you hear them make a public presentation, don't be alarmed. It's probably just because they have new speechwriters.
Last week, the company terminated many of the Public Affairs contract employees who had been speechwriters, worked at FCN or filled other support functions. Jon Pepper, director of global corporate communications, wouldn't say how many were let go. In addition to the cutbacks in contract employees, all 126 regular Public Affairs department employees have been offered buyout packages as part of Ford's goal to eliminate 1,000 white-collar positions.
It wasn't a performance issue, Pepper says. It's a voluntary early-retirement program that was offered to everyone out of fairness.
It's just a call to raise your hand if you want off now, he says.
The offer expires next month, Pepper says. He expects only a handful to accept the offer but says there eventually may be some consolidation and rationalization of regional PR operations.
It's a question of shiftng priorities, and it means Ford's communications operations will need to run a little leaner.
The upshot is that Ford executives may be doing fewer speeches and presentations to the outside world, while communicating more internally to rally the troops around the company's goals and to articulate what is needed to meet them.
And somebody else will have to write the speeches.
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