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Crawford Rides Off Into the West. Almost.

Jun 18, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Kathy Crawford is retiring from MindShare, but she’s not leaving the media business altogether.
One of industry’s top executives specializing in local media, Ms. Crawford said she is leaving her post as New York-based president of local broadcast because she promised her three children she would spend five years in New York, then return home to Phoenix.
“I just want to spend some time with family,” Ms. Crawford said. She said she kept her Phoenix house after moving east. One of her daughters, Jeni, the media manager for the United
Technical Institute, which trains auto mechanics, has been living there.
She plans to take the summer off. She’ll spend time getting her house back in order and going to San Diego with her son and two daughters.
Ms. Crawford plans to drive home from San Diego with her other daughter, Stacy, who is in sales for a yellow pages company.
“We’re going to photograph the trip,” Ms. Crawford said. “I have a dog and two cats that are going to be in the car.”
Come Aug. 15, Ms. Crawford plans to work on some ad industry projects. She’ll be working to push buyers and sellers further down the road to becoming an e-commerce business.
“The TVB [Television Bureau of Advertising] really has stepped up to the plate and done ePort,” a system that electronically ties together stations and media buyers, she said.
Its usefulness has been blunted by the unwillingness of Donovan Data Systems, a leading agency backroom services provider, to go along.
“They’ve got their own product to sell,” she said.
She will also continue to work on Project Reinvention, an industry effort to change the way local media is bought. Ms. Crawford’s idea is to have stations provide buyers with the exact times spots run, for buyers to cross-match that time with Nielsen viewing data, then pay the station based on how many ratings points the spot drew.
Project Reinvention has hired a consultant who is going to interview buyers and sellers to find out what about the new system currently takes up too much time and where the “pain points” would be.
“We can make it much more efficient,” she said. “This is a very labor-intensive process right now.”
She plans to do some consulting for people she has met while doing her job, but not for agencies or media outlets.
“I don’t really want to work that much,” Ms. Crawford said. “I know I’ll get myself back into something. I really don’t know what it’s going to be.”
MindShare was the only media agency Ms. Crawford said she would have come to New York to work for. When she arrived she found a very efficient operation. “It was a pleasure to work with this group, which was like a well-oiled machine.”
That along with support from her bosses, GroupM CEO Irwin Gotlieb, GroupM North America President and CEO Marc Goldstein and MindShare North America CEO Scott Neslund, gave her time to work on projects to improve the industry.
Originally from New York, Ms. Crawford’s mother was editor of McCall’s magazine.
“She was in the print business and I loved television,” she said.
When her mother left McCall’s, she left Skidmore College and got her own job in media, starting at a rep firm called HR Television. She went from HR to Metro TV sales, then down to Washington, D.C., and WTTG-TV. Then she returned to New York with Ed Libov Associates.
“There was a man who was a genius,” she said. “I loved working for Ed. He was really smart.”
Ms. Crawford then moved to Mexico, where her second husband was in medical school.
She next worked at SMS, a media buyer on the West Coast that was bought by Dennis Holt’s Western Media and combined to create Initiative.
Ms. Crawford still loves her television.
“I’m a TV junkie,” she said. “I’ve have five televisions in my house, two DVRs, every gadget known to man.”
So take that, marketers who says older people are not their target demographic.
“I am the target because I am a very early adopter. I have an iPhone. I’m knee-deep into this stuff,” she said.
Who Knew: When Ms. Crawford was 15, she had a summer job in Ossining, N.Y., as a veterinary assistant. The asked her to perform an operation on a very old and sick cat that had been euthanized. “They let me do this one thing to see if I could spay a cat,” she recalled. “It was the scariest thing, and I decided not to become a vet.”

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