At the end of May, it was reported that the Cleveland Browns were letting VP of Media Relations Neal Gulkis go some time in mid-June. Gulkis reportedly worked his final day on the job last Friday, and today, the team announced the hiring of a Director of Communications: Zak Gilbert.
Fired in Oakland, hired right away in Clev. RT @caplannfl: Browns named former Raiders PR director Zak Gilbert as director of communications— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 25, 2013
"We are thrilled to add someone with Zak’s skills and background to lead our communications department," said Browns CEO Joe Banner. "He brings nearly 20 years of expertise on both the collegiate and professional level. We are happy to welcome him to the Browns organization."
Gilbert was the Director of Media Relations for the Oakland Raiders in 2012. Usually, you don't have interesting back-stories about your PR guys. Things are different in Gilbert's case. He was fired by Raiders owner Mark Davis on June 1. According to Silver and Black Pride, the firing came as a result of Davis not liking what was said in a piece that was published by Sports Illustrated:
Gilbert had been brought over from the Green Bay Packers by Reggie McKenzie as part of the regime change. His dismissal came straight from Mark Davis and was reportedly because of an article in Sports Illustrated which spoke of the Raiders' legacy being tainted by the past ten years of non-winning seasons.
Since the article came out, Gilbert had been put on leave and had not been at the Raiders' facility, performing many of his duties from home while assistant media directors Will Kiss and Erin Exum were coordinating things from Raiders headquarters.
A week later, Silver and Black Pride explained more about why Gilbert was fired by Davis:
Mark did not provide a direct response about the firing of Gilbert, but in essence he really did reveal that he did not like the approach that the Raiders were taking to distance themselves from his father. He does not want to move on with the image of Al being incapable of adapting to the new NFL, he wants the image to be the timeless ones of his father holding the Lombardi trophy.
Per Gilbert's LinkedIn account, he is, "actively seeking new opportunities to serve a championship organization." The firing of Gilbert created a stir in Oakland and the national media earlier this month, so I'd imagine that he was well-liked by outsiders. Maybe the Cleveland media will be happier with how things are run now than they were under Gulkis?