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Sony Pictures Taps Crisis PR Vet to Head Corporate Communications (EXCLUSIVE)

Charles Sipkins joins studio from Sard Verbinnen

Sony Pictures Entertainment has tapped crisis PR pro Charles Sipkins as its new senior communications executive.

Sipkins, who most recently served as a managing director for Sard Verbinnen, will fill the gap created when former SPE communications exec Jim Kennedy joined the New York-based pr team for the studio’s parent company two years ago. Sipkins will run the corporate communications group for SPE, which includes exec VP Ann Boyd and oversees PR for the company’s various divisions and international broadcast operations. He’ll report directly to Sony toppers Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal.

Sony had planned to announce Sipkins’ appointment internally next week, according to a source close to the studio. As of Wednesday, Sard Verbinnen had removed Sipkins’ name from its website.

Sipkins’ appointment comes after the studio has endured a difficult summer. The studio has had a rough time at the box office with underperformers like “After Earth,” “White House Down” and “Elysium.” It’s also had to fend off attacks from activist investor Daniel Loeb, who seized on the weak summer slate to criticize the studio’s management and profitability. Sony’s board rejected Loeb’s proposal, but did promise to improve transparency in its financial reports. Loeb’s Third Point Capital owns about 7% of Sony Corp. and is also a minority stakeholder in Variety Media.

Sipkins advised Yahoo! after Third Point Capital led the ouster of former CEO Scott Thompson after discovering he had lied about his educational history. Sipkins helped advise Yahoo! during its consequently tumultuous transition to CEO Marissa Mayer, and advised News Corp. in the lead-up to the spinoff of its publishing assets in June.

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