Michelle Russo | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
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Michelle Russo

EVP, Global Communications
Discovery
UK, Europe

@Michelle_Russo

 

In her 14 years at global television and digital entertainment company Discovery, Michelle Russo has led the communications function through a period of ambitious expansion: its international footprint now includes an average of 12 channels in 220 countries and territories, including Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet. In her first Discovery role as SVP of corporate affairs & communications, Russo rebuilt and managed the broadcaster’s profile as a leading global media company, including media strategy around the company’s public offering in 2008 and re-engineering its CSR strategy.

In 2015, Discovery acquired Eurosport, which is now home of the Olympic Games across Europe through 2024. At the time of this year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang, Russo told the Holmes Report: “People know the Discovery brand as the world’s factual storyteller, and the Olympics are the ultimate form of human storytelling: endeavour, sacrifice, achievement and inspiration. Everything we do in comms has to match the business KPIs…not just imitating what the big broadcasters have always done so well, but adding our experience in short-form content and storytelling.”

Based in London, Russo now oversees a global communications function that spans Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, and includes corporate communications, internal communications, consumer publicity, corporate social responsibility, client relations and hospitality, reputation management and crisis communications. Prior to joining Discovery, Russo served for five years as the primary spokesperson on media regulation at the Federal Communications Commission. She was a senior vice president at media analysis and PR measurement firm CARMA International, and a media strategist on two US Presidential campaigns.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance
Many times! Most recently, PR drove Discovery's reputation in the global sports industry and successful debut as home of the Olympic Games across Europe.

What do you love about this industry?
At its best, communications/marketing is the nexus of business strategy and creativity.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
When it's superficial or making promises that don't follow through.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
Building or maintaining seat at the business leadership table... being "in the room where it happens."

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
Daily exercise. Cardio for stress relief and yoga to generate new ideas and creativity.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
In politics.