Public Affairs promotes and defends Ford’s corporate reputation in the media, utilising vehicle launches, motor shows, sales updates and other business announcements as news hooks. The content and flow of our external information shapes Ford’s image in the minds of consumers, forming opinions which help decide their next vehicle purchase. Ford interviews given to journalists help to inform their independent comment on the company, which in turn influences public perception of the brand.
The team is organised around Product (vehicle launches), Corporate (business and financial news) and Internal (employee) communications. Each team is led by a manager (editor for internal communications), supported by press officers (reporters) each with their own specialism. The press officer role is an ideal Public Affairs training ground, taking responsibility for a vehicle line (small/medium/large car or CV) or company news subject (fleet/manufacturing/environmental) and enabling autonomous deployment of a PR plan to maximise coverage with a strategic launch campaign and taking tactical advantage of arising promotional opportunities.
The traditional media landscape has changed, with news and comment no longer being the prerogative of professional journalists following the proliferation of social media. Ford Public Affairs, working closely with Marketing colleagues, considers the social media potential of all its campaigns and stories. We are learning fast about what’s suited to these new outlets, the enthusiasm of those blogging about Ford and how to deal with them in parallel with our traditional motoring media audience.
Projects within Public Affairs’ expose you to work within a defined brief, budget, and retaining the necessary flexibility to respond to evolving external factors, such as competitor activity, vehicle availability and so on. An example might be to photograph a new model fresh from the factory gates, involving working with a photographer on creating suitable images for a variety of stakeholders. Organisational skills, a tenacious approach and a constant eye on the deadline are key – not forgetting the need for high quality and a ‘plan B’. You will have the opportunity to contribute to projects and work streams at an international level across our global organisation.
We are a fast-moving team, juggling sometimes conflicting deadlines but all with the common goal of maximising Ford’s positive media coverage. As professional external communicators, we try to be good at talking to each other too. Creativity helps look at new ways of handling recurring launches or announcements. The Public Affairs area is stimulating, serving often demanding media while defending Ford’s position and reputation. Diplomacy, self-responsibility and self-confidence are the staples of our armoury – as well as the ability to listen and above all a robust sense of humour.