If you were to rank the basic rules of PR, somewhere in the top ten you'd find this: "Always keep yourself in the public eye." Pretty obvious, right? But what happens when you don't have much to say? You send out lightweight press releases that create news from nothing, of course.
That's essentially what happened yesterday, when Chrysler's marketing team issued a bland press release that essentially said, "Everything's fine. We totally love Fiat. The wedding is still on, y'all." The only bits of interest come at the end of the page, where Chrysler reiterates that none of the bailout money it received would go to Fiat. You know, just in case certain senators are still worried about such things.
There's also a mention of the $3 billion in bailout funds that Chrysler is "due". (Remember: the company asked congress for $7 billion and got $4 billion, with the other cash to follow after Chrysler shows off its snazzy new business plan on February 17.) And that, ladies and gentlemen, would appear to be the real intent of the release: to put some positive spin on merger talks and encourage elected officials--and their constituents--to look favorably on Chrysler's request for more dough. After all, Fiat's getting help from its government; we wouldn't want Italy to show us up, would we?
If you've got a couple of minutes to spare, you might want to take a look at this: the latest installment of Chrysler's weekly video magazine, Under the Pentastar, which was posted to YouTube yesterday. Note that Nardelli quite rightly talks about the merger and fiscal responsibility, but leaves out direct mention of the bailout funds. Well played, Bob!