Sony Pictures Names Rubenstein Exec as Chief Communications Officer

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Crisis PR guru Robert Lawson will start at SPE on June. 1.

Sony Pictures Entertainment has tapped Rubenstein exec Robert Lawson as its chief communications officer, CEO Michael Lynton announced on Tuesday.

Lawson, who worked closely with the studio in the wake of the devastating hack that was first discovered in late November, will start at SPE on June. 1. As Sony reeled from one of the worst PR catastrophes ever endured by a studio, Lawson spearheaded efforts to contain the disaster, which included thousands of leaked documents and embarrassing emails that led to co-chairman Amy Pascal stepping down from her top post.

"Bob comes to SPE after serving as an executive VP at the strategic communications firm Rubenstein and having worked closely with SPE over the last several months as a consultant," Lynton wrote to Sony staffers in an email. "His corporate communications experience in the entertainment space and in other sectors has been enormously helpful to us and we look forward to expanding our work with him across the breadth of the SPE business."

Charles Sipkins most recently held the top corporate communications job at Sony, but he left the studio shortly before the hack -- the details of his exit painfully revealed in leaked emails from Lynton and Pascal's account.

In his new post, Lawson will be responsible for the development and implementation of SPE’s overall communications strategies and lead the company’s media relations, executive communications, crisis/issues management and thought-leadership activities. He will work closely with SPE’s communications teams in the motion picture and TV groups, as well as the company’s global communications team in Tokyo. He will report directly to Lynton and Sony Entertainment president Nicole Seligman.

Lawson joins SPE after running a division at Rubenstein, where he specialized in crisis PR. Over the last year he has worked with Sony Corporation of America on internal and external communications strategies and more recently with Sony Pictures Entertainment, first on the 2014 film Captain Phillips and later on broader corporate communications after the hack, which the U.S. government eventually attributed to the North Korean government, presumably angry over the satire The Interview.

During his time at Rubenstein, Lawson also worked closely with Paramount Pictures on corporate communications issues as well as on specific film campaigns like Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Michael Bay’s Transformers movies.

No stranger to organizations engulfed in PR crises, Lawson's also represented News Corp. and the NFL during his time at Rubenstein. Other clients included Tribeca Enterprises/Tribeca Film Festival, the NYC Marathon and Tishman Speyer. Before Rubenstein, he was a deputy press secretary for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, where the agencies he consulted on included the NYPD, FDNY, Criminal Justice, Parks, Office of Emergency Management, Law Department, Cultural Affairs and the Department of Education.