Disney hires Geoff Morrell to lead public relations and government relations

The Walt Disney Company has found a new image protector and polisher: Geoff Morrell, 53, who helped fossil fuel giant BP brighten its re...


The Walt Disney Company has found a new image protector and polisher: Geoff Morrell, 53, who helped fossil fuel giant BP brighten its reputation after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in 2010 and who served as the Pentagon press secretary during the Iraq war.

Bob chapekDisney chief executive on Tuesday announced the hiring of Mr. Morrell as director of corporate affairs, a newly created position. The position will combine several global functions – communications, public policy, government relations, corporate social responsibility and environmental issues – that were previously divided between departments at Disney.

Mr. Morrell faces many challenges. Disney is going through a turbulent regime change: Mr. Chapek became CEO last year, but his beloved predecessor, Robert A. Iger, remained executive chairman. (He leaves for good on December 31.) The company is also trying to transform itself into a streaming titan while dealing with a change in the country’s culture: Its family brand is for everyone, but neutrality. in today’s hyperpartisan world is almost impossible.

The hiring of Mr. Morrell, first reported by Hollywood journalist, ends a guessing game about which Mr. Chapek would choose to succeed Zenia B. Mucha, who announced her retirement as Disney’s director of communications in July. Among other duties, Ms. Mucha, 65, commanded Disney’s 500-strong global media relations team for 19 years.

Mr. Morrell will move to Los Angeles from London, where BP is based. It will debut at Disney at the end of January. “Few companies are as loved as Disney, and I am committed to doing everything possible to make sure it stays that way,” said Mr. Morrell.

In a note to BP employees on Tuesday, Bernard Looney, CEO of BP, cited the “modernization” that Mr. Morrell has made to the company’s communications efforts. “He helped me change the tone of the company’s voice so that it is now hopefully a lot more human,” Mr. Looney wrote. Mr. Morrell most recently served as Executive Vice President of Communications and Advocacy at BP.

Early in his career, Mr. Morrell was a reporter for ABC News, which is owned by Disney, as a White House correspondent from 2004 to 2007. He left journalism in 2007, when he joined the Pentagon under the Bush administration, as chief spokesperson for Robert M. Gates, the Secretary of Defense, and the US military.

“I trust this guy to do and say whatever I want,” Mr. Gates wrote of Mr. Morrell in his 2014 memoir, “Duty,” while recounting how he fought to keep it. as spokesperson for the Pentagon when President Barack Obama took office. 2009. Mr. Morrell, he writes, was “one of the few people I could count on to criticize me in the face, to tell me when I had given a wrong answer to a question, to question my patience. (or my impatience) with others in the Pentagon, and to question a decision.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Disney hires Geoff Morrell to lead public relations and government relations
Disney hires Geoff Morrell to lead public relations and government relations
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