Porter Novelli’s Sean Smith to lead comms at the Recording Academy

The academy has also promoted Andie Cox to VP of communications.

LOS ANGELES: Sean Smith, a Porter Novelli EVP who led the agency’s global reputation management practice, is moving to the Recording Academy as EVP of communications on Monday, October 25.

The organization supports professionals in the music industry and is best known for presenting the Grammy Awards. 

In the newly created role, Smith will report to co-president Valeisha Butterfield Jones. Smith will lead the communications strategy, including media relations, corporate communications and reputation management. 

“Those who have worked with Sean over the years know and appreciate the immense value he brings to his clients and teams,” stated Porter Novelli’s CEO David Bentley via email. “Luckily for us, Sean is not going far away. We look forward to continuing to work together in his new capacity at the Recording Academy.”

Porter Novelli is the organization’s AOR.

Following Smith’s departure, the Omnicom Group PR firm’s U.S. co-MD, Conroy Boxhill, will lead the corporate council capabilities, working closely with reputation management specialists in North America, EMEA and Latin America. 

Greg Jawski, who was promoted from SVP to EVP, has also taken on expanded responsibilities in the corporate counsel area and as market leader for the agency’s New York and Chicago markets.

At the Recording Academy, Andie Cox, who has worked at the organization for more than seven years, was promoted from MD of comms to VP of comms, reporting to Smith. She is responsible for supporting Smith in the creation of the overall communications strategy including for the Grammy Awards, the Academy’s 12 chapters and DE&I initiatives. The existing internal comms team is handling her prior responsibilities. PRWeek selected Cox as a 2021 40 Under 40 honoree.

Lourdes Lopez Patton had served as VP of communications at the Recording Academy from July 2019 through mid-August 2021 and departed following a restructuring.

Smith stated that he’ll ensure that the organization's goals and business strategy are effectively communicated to the audiences and stakeholders and will serve as a strategic counselor. He noted that this includes working on CEO Harvey Mason Jr.’s vision to modernize, grow and reinvent the academy. 

“Part of that will be to help harness the transformation of the Recording Academy and translate that into a series of storylines that people will follow along and hopefully support,” said Smith.

Modernizing the organization’s communications will mean staying on top of the way music is made, distributed and consumed. He commented that the radical transformations in the industry over the last few years won’t stop, and that new platforms, technologies and ways for music creators to get their art to the public will evolve.

“It’s not just the platforms and channels by which we communicate but what we communicate, what we say, how frequently we say it, the kinds of relationships that we cultivate with the people who cover the organization and the people who don't yet cover it,” said Smith.

He added that the music industry has made great strides in diversity and inclusion and pointed to the Academy’s hiring of Jones to also serve as its chief diversity and inclusion officer. 

Smith plans to tap into his governmental and political experience in looking at policies that democratize the music industry by opening access and opportunities.

In addition to working for more than a decade at Porter Novelli, Smith served as assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and as a spokesperson with Obama for America.

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