Sean Greene: Bridging Traditional And Online Media as RHD's SVP of Interactive

A few weeks ago, RHD announced that Sean Greene, their SVP of corporate strategy and business development, had just been named SVP of interactive. Greene who will be moving to Santa Monica to lead the interactive team (the former Business.com team) brings 17 years of print and online local search experience with him. I caught up with Greene a few days ago to discuss this announcement. 

Sebastien Provencher: Tell me about yourself and your new role.

Sean Greene: I joined RHD in 1993 starting in sales, after which I worked in a variety of roles in marketing and sales planning. In 2003, I became responsible for interactive strategy (after spending two years at a startup). At the time, BestRedYP (seen here on Archive.org) was already running. I orchestrated the acquisitions of LocalLaunch and Business.com who were strategic both from a technology and resource perspective. In my new role, I will have leadership of the whole online team, about 150 people altogether: 125 in Santa Monica (the Business.com office) and the rest in Denver.

SP: What are you bringing to the online team?

SG: Interestingly enough, I’m viewed as the Internet guy within RHD but I’m viewed as the print guy in Santa Monica. This gives me a unique understanding of print & online but also a strong knowledge of Yellow Pages sales. This allows me to put in perspective the need of both consumers and advertisers.

SP: What are the current strengths of RHD’s online offer?

SG: I really like Dex Net, our search marketing product. Our goal is to find the best click we can get for advertisers.The Dex brand (and DexKnows.com) is also really strong in all our markets. Finally, our advertiser relationships with 500,000+ advertisers is also a major strength of our organization. 

SP: What are your main opportunities for improvements?

SG: Our legacy around fixed-fee products (print and Internet). Those products don’t scale well (upwards and downwards) when usage volume change and, because of that, we’ve been hurt by recent cyclical and secular changes.

SP: What is your short term and long term focus?

SG: Short term: educating both sides of the fence. On the traditional channel side, we need to let them know what products and features we’re working on. On the Business.com side, we need to make sure the team understands how sales works. Longer term: I want to bring greater synergies between  consumer & advertiser products, to integrate our story more tightly. We also want to continue working to attract online talent in our office in Santa Monica. We’ve been voted three years in a row one of the “best places to work in Los Angeles” by the LA Business Journal and we want to continue remaining an employer of choice for online talent.

SP: what do you think of social media as an opportunity?

SG: We’ve been looking at it but I’m disappointed we’re not further along. For example, Work.com is all about consumer generated content and could be a great entry into social media. Next phase: how do we integrate social media in our big opportunities.

SP: What about mobile?

SG: I’m now very bullish on mobile and I hadn’t been until now. The arrival of the iPhone, the ability to develop applications that solve the needs of the person have changed that. I think we will soon learn from mobile and incorporate those thoughts in our Web strategy.

SP: One last question. I’m curious to know, why don’t you split print and online revenues in your quarterly conference calls?

SG: As I mentioned before, our strategy is to offer the best leads to our advertisers wherever it’s coming from. It could be print, online, voice, Dex Net, etc. We provide local marketing solutions to SMEs. It wouldn’t serve our long term vision to split revenues that way.

SP: Thank you!

On a related note, RHD reported second quarter 2009 results last week. Net revenue was $566 million , down 15% second quarter 2008. Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter was $293 million , down 20 percent from second quarter 2008. 

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