The story has been making the rounds, both in the press and on the internet, for the past two days: Chrysler’s public relations chief, Jason Vines, has “resigned.”
 
But, now the story is being told more bluntly in the Detroit News: he got canned.
 
But not for poor performance.
 
It seems he does his job too well.
 
The public relations post no longer reports to the CEO. Rather, the PR chief reports to the head of “human resources.”
 
Observers say the change in structure is “unusual,” according to the newspaper.
 
Well, maybe.
 
But, the change sure is suspicious.
 
Chrysler has been big about trumpeting its moves, when it wanted to. It trumpeted the elimination of 12,000 jobs. It’s carefully leaked plans for dealer reductions and elimination of product lines. It made a very, very big deal about the rapidity with which new management was making decisions.
 
And, now – all of a sudden – it’s shooting the designated messenger?
 
Why?
 
The theory offered by the newspaper’s quoted expert is that Chrysler, LLC is trying to be quiet, low-profile, and secretive, so it doesn’t want a loud PR guy anymore.
 
That makes no sense.
 
This is a company that still needs to convince the investment world that they have a plan for success. They still need to peddle the $12 billion in bonds that the investment bankers are holding because Cerberus suckered them. This is a company that is undercapitalized and likely will need large dollars to get any shot at surviving for another five years.
 
In that situation, the one person a CEO wants to control is the PR guy. Directly.
 
This isn’t about realignment.
 
It’s about henchmen.
 
When you have a good story to tell, you merely want the best story-teller. By all accounts, Vines was one of the best story-tellers in Detroit, perhaps in the automotive world.
 
Good enough not to lie.
 
The interesting thing about occupations which have to do with public image, media, and communication is the rather loose association with “ethics.” It’s not a matter of principle. It’s a matter of capital. Trust is built over time and, once built, becomes individual equity. No employer pays enough to pay for its destruction.
 
No single Nardelli move has more transparently disclosed the trouble at Chrysler than the firing of Vines.
 
Nardelli is looking for a mouthpiece, to replace the company’s spokesman.
 
And, for that, there’s a reason.

What do you think?
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