Note to Auto Company CEOs: At Least Try To Show You’re Making Changes

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[image courtesy NYTimes]

Robert Nardelli of Chrysler, Alan Mulally of Ford and Rick Wagoner of General Motors (pictured above) have created quite a PR firestorm after arriving in Washington to plead for a $25B bailout package for their companies…in separate private jets.

While Mulally, “arrived on Capitol Hill driving a new Ford Fusion Hybrid,” according to The Atlantic, “The press knew this was going to happen because Ford’s PR machine sent word to daybook editors yesterday.”

It didn’t do anything to quell outrage on the Hill. Writes The Atlantic‘s Eric Holder:

…you’ve got to wonder whether anyone in Mulally’s inner circle was thinking through the consequences of allowing the CEO to travel to Washington on the company’s own private jet as they’re seeking a bailout — the failure or success of which depends on the automakers winning a public relations battle…. within which the company has to prove that (a) it really is running out of cash (b) its management is cutting back on expenses and (c) management gets it.

Perhaps the auto execs could’ve taken a queue from Goldman Sach’s top brass, who will forgo their 2008 bonuses. The takeaway here: actions speak louder than words. No press release or media relations campaign is more important than your real life actions.