Participant, the leading media company founded by Jeff Skoll in 2004 dedicated to entertainment that inspires audiences to engage in positive social action, today announced the creation of a new Audience Department. This marks the latest important stage in the company’s continued growth toward building an online community of Participants engaged around art and activism. As part of the announcement, digital media and strategy veteran Jim Hu has been promoted to Executive Vice President to lead the department. Participant’s Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Brakin, to whom Hu will report, made the announcement.
Working together with Participant’s various distribution and impact partners, the new department will focus on expanding the company’s community of Participants online. In his new role, Hu will oversee digital short-form content production, programming, audience acquisition and optimization across Participant’s digital channels, including social media. The group will work in close collaboration with Participant’s marketing and social impact teams to create daily touchpoints that complement the company’s films and episodic content.
Brakin commented on the news, saying: “As more and more people around the world are watching Participant content and engaging with our brand, we see a powerful opportunity to foster a community that will drive greater collective action on some of the most important issues of our time. The creation of this new department – with Jim at the helm, whose experience, collaboration and knowledge of our work is immeasurable – marks the next chapter of our growth, grounded in Jeff’s vision that a good story well told can change the world.”
Participant went through a major rebrand in 2019 that embodies its legacy of unifying art and activism, creativity and impact. The company has been pursuing its mission of inspiring and accelerating social change through high-quality content with a focus on building collaborative, longer-term campaigns that incorporate the artist along with the company’s distributors and impact partners. The next step in that evolution is the creation of the audience team who will connect an engaged community of Participants to its content and impact.
Hu added: “For the past 17 years Participant has worked with an incredible community of artists and activists to tell stories that inspire change. Our opportunity now is to forge deeper relationships with our audience of Participants by inspiring them with our content and illuminating pathways for them to create impact. I am excited to be a part of such a talented team driving Participant’s evolution.”
Hu first joined Participant in 2018 as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, a role in which he oversaw the design and implementation of the Company’s long-range strategy across film, television and digital media in both domestic and international markets. Hu is a digital media veteran who led strategy, operations and monetization teams across global digital brands including Instagram, Yahoo!, CNET and the Los Angeles Times. He earned his MBA at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a bachelor’s degree at Tufts University.
Participant’s current projects include Warner Bros. Pictures and MACRO’s Judas and the Black Messiah, nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Picture, as well as Oscar® nominated Collective, from co-distributor Magnolia Pictures. Participant’s upcoming titles include Final Account, the feature documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Luke Holland, set for release from Focus Features on May 21, followed by Stillwater, the next feature film from Spotlight director Tom McCarthy starring Matt Damon, which Focus will release on July 30. Also upcoming is the new documentary from Oscar®-nominated filmmakers of RBG, My Name is Pauli Murray, which Amazon Studios will distribute, as well as Sundance winner Flee, which Participant will co-distribute with NEON, and the latest film from Oscar®-nominated director Matthew Heineman, The First Wave, which was recently acquired by National Geographic Documentary Films and NEON, all three of which are set for release later this year.
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