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Jeff Zucker Woos Longtime PR Person to CNN

Allison Gollust Headshot - P 2013
Courtesy of CNN
Allison Gollust

UPDATED: The latest big hire for the new CNN Worldwide president reunites him with former NBCUniversal corporate communications senior vp Allison Gollust.

Jeff Zucker has found a new communications head for CNN.

The president of CNN Worldwide, who officially joined the struggling cable news brand in January, announced Friday that former NBCUniversal senior vp corporate communications Allison Gollust will join CNN Worldwide in March.

Gollust will serve as senior vp communications, overseeing all messaging strategy and execution for the CNN portfolio, acting as chief spokesperson and reporting directly to Jeff Matteson, senior vp communications at Turner Broadcasting .

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“In the 15 years that Allison and I have worked together, I’ve depended on her judgment, counsel and relationships,” said Zucker. “Allison is joining CNN at an exciting time, and she and the strong communications team she’s inheriting will play a critical role in shaping the organization and its story going forward. It’s great to have her at CNN.”

The changes have been coming fast and furious at CNN, most notably managing editor Mark Whitaker exiting his contract in late January. The roster of on-air talent also has been evolving, with Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo coming to CNN from ABC News and James Carville and Mary Matalin among those departing.

Gollust most recently served as communications director for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She departs the governor's office after only four months for the CNN position. Her previous tenure at NBCUniversal started in 1996, and during her time she worked with NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and the Weather Channel.

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“Allison is among the most experienced and respected communications executives in the media industry, and her close working relationship with Jeff Zucker is one of its most successful professional partnerships,” said Matteson. “The regard in which she is held by the press and her peers; her reputation for integrity, accessibility and candor; her ability to lead talented teams; and her importance to Jeff as an adviser and spokesperson make her a great fit for this key role, and a great addition to Turner Broadcasting’s leadership ranks.”

CNN recently saw one of its biggest ratings swells since Zucker joined. The network topped all cable competition with the coveted adults 25-54 demographic during coverage of President Obama's State of the Union Address.

Zucker released a memo to staff discussing Gollust's addition and acknowledging Christa Robinson's departure from the communications department:

 

Today we’re announcing that Allison Gollust will join CNN as senior vice president of communications. Allison and I worked together for many years at NBC Universal, where she distinguished herself in a number of critical roles, ultimately as executive vice president of corporate communications. She is one of the most highly regarded communications executives in media, and she’ll be a great addition to my senior team and a great leader for CNN’s strong communications team. The press release announcing her appointment is attached. Allison is with us officially starting in March. You’ll meet her then, but if you cross paths in the meantime, please say hello and welcome her.

 

Christa Robinson will be leaving CNN and her leadership role with the communications group. Christa has been an important part of CNN as a strategist, spokesperson and adviser. I’m especially grateful to her for the counsel and support she has provided to me since I joined the organization. On your behalf and mine, I’ve expressed to her our sincere thanks and best wishes.