June 17, 2024


Think Differently

Paramount Global Head of Marketing, Communications Julia Phelps Exits

Julia Phelps, Paramount Global‘s executive VP and chief communications and corporate marketing officer, is exiting after almost 20 years with the company and predecessor Viacom.

Phelps had long worked with Bob Bakish, who was ousted as CEO of the company last month and replaced by a three-exec committee. Phelps, in a memo to her team Friday that was obtained by Variety, said she will leave Paramount at the end of May. (Read the full memo below.)

According to Phelps’ memo, the company’s marketing and communications group for the time being will report into Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon. Robbins is one of the troika of execs in the company’s “Office of the CEO,” alongside George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS, and Chris McCarthy, president and CEO, Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks.

The senior management changes at Paramount Global come amid an uncertain future for the parent of CBS, Paramount Pictures, Paramount+, Pluto TV, and cable networks like Comedy Central, BET, MTV and Nickelodeon. Paramount Global’s board and controlling shareholder Shari Redstone had been in talks with David Ellison’s Skydance Media on a deal that would have merged Paramount and Skydance. But an exclusive 30-day negotiating window with Skydance lapsed last month without a deal. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures and private-equity giant Apollo teamed on a proposed $26 billion offer for Paramount Global, but Sony is now “rethinking” the bid to acquire the entire company, CNBC reported this week.

Phelps had joined Viacom in 2005 from New York-based agency DeVries Public Relations. Prior to her most recent role, she was EVP of communications, culture and marketing for Viacom, a role she took over in April 2017 after doing communications work for Viacom’s international operations.

Phelps, a native of Canada, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Victoria in British Columbia and a master degree in strategic communications from Columbia University.

Read her memo:

From: Julia Phelps
Subject: Our Team  

Hi team, 

I’m writing to share the news that I will be leaving Paramount at the end of the month. 

Paramount is a place that lives up to its name in every respect — unbeatable storytelling, iconic brands, unforgettable pop culture moments and, above all, the most passionate, intelligent, and fun people anyone could ever dream of working alongside.

In two decades and across multiple roles, I’ve been lucky to work with the very best all around the world. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done together to tell our story, spotlight our creativity, drive the transformation of our business in a time of unprecedented change, and build our culture. 

Seemingly every minute I’ve been in this role we’ve had a massive job on our plate — the Viacom/CBS merger and integration, the launch of Paramount+, the rebrand to Paramount Global, and the navigation of the pandemic into the new world of hybrid work, to name just a few. Each of these projects required lock-step collaboration across communications, marketing, creative, events, our partners in Finance, Government Affairs, Human Resources, Investor Relations, Legal, and the Office of Global Inclusion, along with thoughtful engagement of our employees, key stakeholders and communities. We’re a group that can help to launch a streaming service in over 45 countries and plan a Global Community Day that marshals 7,300 employees for 18,000 hours of service in the same breath. Our level of high-stakes, unflappable teamwork is an incredible achievement that I hope you own with pride and carry forward into a new era for the company. 

I don’t have to tell you that you’re in great hands with Crystal, Sue, Justin, Cheryl, Stephen, Josh, and Marc. In the interim, MarComms will report into Brian Robbins until the group structure is finalized. I will be with the company through the end of the month to ensure a smooth transition and hopefully get to connect with all of you in the process.

Thank you for everything you’ve done and will continue to do for Paramount, and for all you’ve done for me personally and professionally.  I am forever grateful.

With my deepest thanks,