Lisa Crane, who begins her job today as VP-general manager of NBC.com, was driving onto the network's Burbank, Calif., lot last Tuesday to look at her new office.
The security guard didn't recognize her, so she gave him the name of the one person she knew in the West Coast office--Tom Hjelm, director of interactive programming for NBC Digital Productions.
"Luckily I know one person's name here," she said into her cell phone as she drove onto the lot. "Everyone else I know [at NBC] is in New York."
For Ms. Crane, formerly VP-sales and marketing for Universal Studios Online, Los Angeles, that's one of the challenges of her new job: spreading the word about the West Coast-based entertainment side of NBC.com to the entire East Coast-based network organization.
"My goal is to increase the visibility and profile of NBC.com," said Ms. Crane, which she intends to do not only with NBC executives but to the industry at large, through speaking at public events, working with partners and finding synergies with the network.
Ms. Crane succeeds Edmond Sanctis, who left as senior-VP and general manager of NBC.com last year to become chief operating officer of CNET's Snap, which NBC now co-owns with CNET.
She will report to Bob Meyers, senior VP and general manager of NBC Interactive, who has been overseeing NBC.com since Mr. Sanctis' departure. NBC Interactive is the umbrella organization for NBC.com; NBC Interactive Neighborhood, the network of NBC owned-and-operated stations and 100-plus affiliate stations; MSNBC.com; and NBC's interests in Snap and other online properties.
Ms. Crane will be responsible for all of the operations of NBC.com, as well as serving as a liaison between the entire entertainment business of NBC and the Internet.
"She has unique abilities in leadership, team building and being able to create a vision based upon other people's ideas and her own," Mr. Meyers said. "This is the kind of leader we need here. This is an extremely important hire for us."
Not than NBC needs that much evangelizing about the Internet. Since launching NBC.com in 1995, the network has broken ground in original programming tied to its on-air shows, as well as in opportunities for its online advertisers. In 1997, for example, it integrated advertising for General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile Intrigue into the online story line of "The Pretender," an on-air show.
This week, NBC.com launches a special online event tied to its "Homicide" show, in which the first episode appears online Feb. 3, followed by the on-air show Feb. 5. The show's characters will help solve a murder plot online with Microsoft Corp. sponsoring the event.
"Our whole advertising strategy with each show is to work with advertisers who want to exclusively partner with us, with breaking-the-barriers kind of partnerships rather than pure banners," said Patricia Karpas, VP-advertising and marketing for NBC Interactive.
"Lisa will bring great synergies," she said. "The better our relationships are with the shows, the stronger our online offerings will be."
Ms. Crane also plans to develop e-commerce initiatives on NBC and work with NBC.com partners iVillage, Talk City and Snap.
That's bound to get her some recognition, even from the security guards.
Copyright February 1999, Crain Communications Inc.