Three-plus months after emerging from a $43 billion executive merger, Warner Bros Discovery has finalized its communications roster.
Nathaniel Brown, who formerly headed communications for Discovery and was named chief corporate communications officer at WBD in May, conveyed the news to employees in an internal memo. (Read it below.)
Megan Klein, who worked with Brown previously at 21st Century Fox and then held a senior role at Fox Corp., has been set as a key lieutenant reporting to Brown. She oversees West Coast communications, including areas like media relations; finance/investor relations; government affairs; diversity, equity and inclusion; corporate social responsibility; and legal.
Along with new titles and posts for eight US-based execs and two in the international ranks, Brown’s memo disclosed that eight veterans of the pre-merger companies are preparing to exit WBD after a transition period. The list of VPs or higher-ranked execs who are departing includes Gregory Ho, Lauren McCabe, Janine Richardson, Caroline Rittenberry, Jennifer Toner, Rob Wheeler, Laura Young and Emily Zalenski. All had worked at WarnerMedia prior to the combined companies.
The newly formed entity has projected $3 billion in cost savings as a result of the merger, and streamlining and consolidation has been occurring in stages throughout the organization. Communications is one of several areas with a considerable degree duplication of job functions.
Here is Brown’s full memo:
Hi, all —
It’s been a very busy, productive few months since the launch of our new combined company. During this time, I’ve really enjoyed meeting and talking with many of you and remain grateful for your openness, insights and patience throughout this process. Both legacy companies bring tremendous talent, and this is especially true when it comes to the Communications function, which makes me even more excited about the team we’re building together for the future. Unfortunately, it has also made for some really tough decisions as we streamline the organization and necessarily eliminate duplicative roles.
As all of you know, effective communications are absolutely critical to an organization’s success, and here at Warner Bros. Discovery we take this responsibility and the opportunity it presents very seriously. Our goal is to establish a strong, unified global corporate communications function that extends across our businesses and regions, while enabling us to move quickly, and maintain consistency of messaging as we seek to protect and promote our company’s interests.
With this in mind, I am pleased to announce our Global Corporate Communications and Media Relations leadership team across key functional areas, all reporting to me:
Megan Klein – Corporate Communications. Megan joined WBD earlier this summer, having recently led corporate communications for the Fox Corporation. She brings a distinguished track record and a deep understanding of the full range of corporate and industry issues. She runs West Coast communications and supports me across all corporate communications functions, including media relations, finance/investor relations, government affairs, DE&I, CSR and legal, and will serve as a company spokesperson. Reporting to Megan is Jade Ekstedt, VP, Corporate Communications, who was formerly part of the WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group.
Laura Watson – Executive Communications. Laura recently joined us from The Walt Disney Company where she built a stellar track record overseeing executive communications. She will directly support our CEO and other C-suite executives and senior leadership responsible, and will also be for strategic planning and messaging, including for the company’s investor relations, crisis management, and media engagement functions. Reporting to Laura is Steven Piorkowski, VP, Corporate Communications.
Kim Page – Internal Communications. Kim will oversee all communications intended to inform and engage the company’s employee population globally. She held the same role at WarnerMedia, and prior to that served in a similar capacity at AT&T and Turner. Continuing to report to Kim are Erin Wrigley, VP, Employee Communications and Engagement, and Melissa Jacobson, VP, Platforms and Digital Communications. As previously announced, Tammy Shea, who oversaw internal communications for legacy Discovery, has joined the P&C organization where she now leads employee engagement initiatives.
Blake Bryant – Global Brands, Franchises, Experiences, Home Entertainment and Licensing. Blake will continue to oversee communications for DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Themed Entertainment, and the Global Franchise Strategy group, while also assuming responsibility for Home Entertainment and Licensing. Katie Kotchka, VP, Communications, and Carrie Williams, Exec. Director, will continue to report to Blake, and under the new dual structure, so too will Stuart Herriott, VP, Publicity and Home Entertainment.
Nate Smeltz – US Sports Communications. Nate will continue to oversee US sports communications working closely with Lenny Daniels, President of Turner Sports, and Luis Silberwasser, Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, with a dotted line to me.
Monica Neal – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Monica and her team will continue to run DEI communications, amplifying internal and external programs and initiatives across the company, and supporting WBD’s future Chief Global Diversity and Inclusion Officer. She reports jointly to Megan and myself.
Arielle Falkowitz – Corporate Relations. Arielle will oversee corporate event planning on behalf of the CEO and other C-suite executives, including those held at Hudson Yards and on the Lot. She will also continue supporting industry relations, and company-wide hospitality programs, as she did in her legacy Discovery role. Maria Gardner, formerly part of the Studios and Networks Group, will join her team.
Cara Brugnoli – Revenue Communications. Cara and her blended team, to be announced at a later date, will oversee communications in support of the Ad Sales and Distribution teams, the same responsibilities that Cara had at legacy Discovery. She will also oversee news and social media, jointly with Laura Watson.
International – regional communications leads will be:
Fiona McLachlan – EMEA. Fiona will lead the communications team for the EMEA region, supporting Priya Dogra, Andrew Georgiou and others. She most recently ran communications for Discovery Sport. We will appoint a new sports lead under Fiona. I have asked Espen Skoland, who ran EMEA communications for legacy Discovery, to remain on our team and he is considering other senior communications roles in Europe. More to share in the coming weeks.
Selina Govan – APAC. Selina will oversee the communications team for the APAC region, supporting James Gibbons, Clement Schwebig and others. She previously ran APAC comms for legacy Discovery.
LATAM — The Executive Search team is actively looking internally and externally to identify a communications lead for the LATAM region to support Fernando Medin and others. The current comms team will report in to this new leader.
As we combine and restructure the communications functions companywide, we unfortunately find ourselves also having to say goodbye to a number of talented individuals who have contributed to the legacy companies’ and WBD’s success.
Gregory Ho, Lauren McCabe, Janine Richardson, Caroline Rittenberry, Jennifer Toner, Rob Wheeler, Laura Young and Emily Zalenski will be departing after a transition period. We are truly grateful for their leadership, accomplishments, and commitment over the years – to their teams and the organization. Each of them has had a meaningful and lasting impact, and we wish them all the very best and much success in their future endeavors.
There are still lots more details to be figured out as we continue to build the right global communications team for the future and determine how best to support our senior leadership and businesses worldwide. I am excited and optimism about the opportunities that lay ahead and appreciate everyone’s continued patience and support through this process.
Stay tuned and keep up the great work.