US Chamber of Commerce selects Michelle Russo to head comms

Russo joins from Discovery, where she worked for 14 years.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

WASHINGTON: Discovery’s Michelle Russo has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as chief comms officer.

Russo starts in the newly created role on April 9. She will report to senior EVP Suzanne Clark and have a team of more than 20 people, a source familiar with the matter told PRWeek.

Russo will handle media relations, digital, speech writing, and PR strategy for the Chamber. She will lead the lobbying group’s comms team to "promote its free enterprise and pro-business mission," according to a statement. The Chamber recruited her during an international search with the help of executive search consultant Russell Reynolds Associates.

Russo and the Chamber weren’t immediately available for comment.

Catherine Frymark, group SVP of corporate comms at Discovery, told PRWeek there was a reorganization at Discovery after it acquired Scripps Network last year. The $14.6 billion deal closed in March 2018. After that, Discovery moved its headquarters from Silver Spring, Maryland, to New York, laying off hundreds.

Frymark explained that Discovery "de-duplicated" some roles as a result of the reorganization. There was some "centralizing" in the U.S., which is now led by David Leavy, chief corporate operations and comms officer.

Russo’s role as EVP of global comms at Discovery was not replaced, Frymark said.

Leavy noted that he is "delighted" for Russo about her new position.

"[Russo] gave Discovery 14 years of exceptional service and strategy, from leading the internal and external communications for Discovery’s debut as a public company, to overseeing the communications planning and execution for our first-ever broadcast of the Olympic Games across Europe, she left a profound mark on Discovery," he said. "The Chamber is so fortunate to have her and I look forward to her many achievements in this important new role."

Russo has been in her most recent role at Discovery for four years, based in London. In the role, she oversaw comms and marketing teams across the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific, a statement said.

Before Discovery, she was at the Federal Communications Commission, serving as the lead spokesperson on media regulation, a statement said. She also served on the FCC’s crisis response team following 9/11.

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