WINNER: ELLEN KRONER SVP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING, RAINBOW MEDIA HOLDINGS

In 2005 Rainbow chief Josh Sapan reorganized his company’s communications structure and named Ellen Kroner to run it. She’s done that so well, she’s our PR Executive of the Year. We asked her about hurdles, new media and reorganization.

CableFAX: The Magazine: What’s the biggest challenge for cable communicators generally and you particularly?

Ellen Kroner: I think communicators are all facing similar challenges. Industry consolidation and increasing competition are shrinking many of our options for traditional press coverage and communications outreach. When you pair that with the proliferation of new communications platforms and the explosion of social networking, blogging and the 24-hour news cycle, it’s a challenge to navigate through all the outlets, deliver a strategic message and be assured you are finding the right audience for that message.

CTM: How is it working with new media?

Kroner: We’ve had some success with AMC and IFC blogger screenings bringing in new audiences and building ratings. Of course, some of it is totally uncontrollable, like the bloggers who write things you absolutely hate because it’s either untrue or unfair, and you have no recourse.

CTM: Why was it necessary to consolidate Rainbow’s comm. structure?

Kroner: After a lot of discussion and thought, we agreed that by focusing on building up the strength and consistency of our messaging we’d have the most immediate and measurable results on the organization. So we structured a corporate communications department to handle all the trade and business press, and centralized trade marketing, internal communications, industry relations and public affairs, leaving network PR teams to focus on consumer press and branding.

CTM: After centralizing, are there challenges keeping each network’s distinct voice?

Kroner: Not at all. The department structure enables us to better identify and develop strategic messages. This would be impossible to do without centralization.

Fast Facts

  • Kroner spent years in the movie business. We asked for a short list of her must-see directors and actors: "After many years in the movie business you know too much about the personalities involved to watch movies objectively. Here’s a tiny sample. Directors: Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson. Actors: Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep."

Honorable Mentions:

Bill Hofheimer, Director, ESPN — Hofheimer directs communications for ESPN’s largest and highest rated and biggest profile series, Monday Night Football. He also spearheads MNF’s in-booth celebrity guest appearances, which often gain story mentions in non-sports outlets.

Pam Slay, SVP, Hallmark Channel — When the Golden Globes were canceled this year, Slay staged a win or lose party at the home of Golden Globe nominee Ernest Borgnine, which got the 91-year-old and Hallmark plenty of PR. Clever.

Jennifer Greene, VP, TBS & TNT — Greene’s team publicized seven shows in eight weeks last summer, using a multitude of platforms and techniques. She also encourages studying other networks’ PR and marketing and applying the best practices at her shop.

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