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PR 101

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Good morning, class.

Good morning Mr. Mullings.

I said … Good Morning, Class.


That's better.

Today we're going to discuss a pretend, made-up, invented, fabricated case which you, as senior-level Public Relations majors will have to fix. Are you up for this?


Here's the case. A major industrial segment - which has only three domestic players - is in financial distress because of decades of bad decisions. They want the Congress to bail them out to the tune of $25 billion. The Congress has bailed out other bad actors - AIG to make a point - with hundreds of billions of dollars so this particular industry segment feels fairly confident they will get the dough.

Questions. Yes, Furbush?

Mr. Mullings, would this case pertain to the auto industry?

Furbush, you clever devil. It is, indeed, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

To continue, the CEOs of what are now laughingly called "the big three" fly into Washington to make their case to the appropriate Congressional Committees. How do you think they got from Detroit to Washington? Anyone? Anyone?

Mr. Mullings, you know how we hate when you do that Ferris Bueller business.

Point taken. If you were the head of any of the major domestic automobile manufacturing companies' public relations department what would you have recommended?

Take a commercial flight?

Good! First class or coach. Remember Ford has closed 17 plants and laid off more than 51,000 employees over the past three year.


Yes, well. They didn't do that. Anyone else? Yes, Mr. Dimwitty?

They flew first class?

Not a bad guess but no. Someone else want to give this a shot? Miss Gotrocks?

They shared a private plane?

That, I think, might have been defensible. But, sadly, that is not what they did. Ok. I'll tell you what they did. Each Chief Executive Officer of the each of the three major American car companies took his own private jet from Detroit to Dulles Airport to attend the Congressional hearings during which they were going to beg for $25 billion.

Seriously, Mr. Mullings. How did they really get to Washington? Train?

No. They really, actually each flew in their own private multi-million dollar jet plane. The Ford guy doesn't even live in Michigan, much less Detroit. According to ABC's Brian Ross,

Alan Mulally actually lives in Seattle, not Detroit. The company jet takes him home and back on weekends.

You would think that the board of directors over at Ford might have thought it might have made some sense for the company's CEO to live within commuting distance to the office.

According to my mapping program, the distance from Seattle to Detroit is a little over 2,300 miles and the trip, by car, takes about 40 hours.

As 40 hours happens to be the length of the average work week, Mr. Mulally would do nothing but drive from his house to his office and back every two weeks for the $21 million he made in 2007 were it not for his private jet.

Dear Mr. Mullings, what happened to that Socratic question-and-answer thing you were doing earlier?

Don't bother me now. I'm on a roll.

According to published reports, the average United Auto Worker union member makes about $73 per hour. How much does Mr. Mullaly make per hour? Let's do the math.

Forty hours a week times 52 weeks (ignoring vacation and holidays) = 2080 hours. If we divide 21 million by 2080 we come up with a bit over $10,000 per hour.

Ten. Thousand. Dollars. Per. Hour.

And there's nothing to indicate he can hit major league pitching.

You might think the CEOs of the three majors would be willing to take a little haircut on their salaries after getting out of their private jets and into their private limos on their way to plead for you and me to provide then $25 billion to make up for their dreadful decisions.


According to

"Representative Peter Roskam, an Illinois Republican, challenged [GM CEO Rick] Wagoner and Mulally to forgo pay for a year, saying he understood Nardelli was agreeable to the idea."

Wagoner said he had "no position on that." And Mulally said "I think I'm OK where I am."

Well, hell. If I were making 10 grand AN HOUR I'd be "OK where I am," too.

You think Wagoner hasn't thought about taking a smallish pay cut to show how serious he is about helping his company through this rough patch? Of course he did and apparently decided against it.

He lied to the committee. He had a position and his position was: I'm not giving up a dime.

Ok. For next time, come up with a public relations plan to bail these idiots out of the swamp they've put themselves in.

Class dismissed.

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