TSA's Raimondo helps world ring in new year

Among the 1 million onlookers at Times Square who watched the Waterford Crystal Philips-lighted New Year's Eve ball slide down its mast stood Lori Raimondo, Chicago native and New York transplant.

Among the 1 million onlookers at Times Square who watched the Waterford Crystal Philips-lighted New Year's Eve ball slide down its mast stood Lori Raimondo, Chicago native and New York transplant. She reflected briefly on the culmination of a year's work as it expired at midnight - in an explosion of confetti, cheers, whistles, and ceremonial kissing. Her first thought after that: What to do next year.

Ringing in the New Year in New York's Times Square is a time-honored tradition: a permanent icon of American culture, as recognizable as the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

This marked Raimondo's second year as VP of marketing for the Times Square Alliance (TSA), helping to plan, conceptualize, and organize the event.

Adding to the normal pressures of pulling off such a gargantuan task, this year marked the 100-year anniversary of the Times Square celebration. The TSA, along with its partners Rubenstein Associates and Countdown Entertainment, had to work in concordance to launch fresh ideas, while balancing the obviously looming deadline.

"It's live," Raimondo emphasizes. "There's no running over. That ball has to drop at midnight or you have a PR disaster." She credits the work of Countdown and Rubenstein for how smoothly the three entities worked together.

Ideas and preparations for the celebration normally intensify in September as Raimondo begins to coordinate the three groups.

"A lot of phone calls, e-mails, meetings," she says with a chuckle. All three entities have distinct - but intertwined - responsibilities. Countdown deals with the logistics of the actual night. Rubenstein handles the crush of media press credentials, and landing TSA and Countdown representatives in spots on Good Morning America, Today, and Fox Business Channel.

Raimondo's department, its five staffers, focuses on the message of each New Year - and getting that message across. To that end, she implemented a "Good Riddance Day," held on December 28 at the Times Square information center. Participants were invited to bring documents and hand-written notes of things they wish to forget from 2007 and toss them into a giant shredder.

"Some people actually brought photos, 10 years' worth of divorce documentation, photographs of ex-bosses," Raimondo reports. "Authors brought rejection letters. My goal is to make it a national holiday."

Another initiative Raimondo implemented was the "Wishing Wall," both a physical and online wall for participants to write their wish on a piece of confetti and have it added to the nearly one ton of confetti dropped onto the square at midnight.

"[The messages] were funny, heartwarming, sad," she recalls. "We received over 92,000 wishes online. The number-one wish was peace. So I felt like the message people sent to us as their wish for the New Year was peace."

The wishes were delivered in 28 different languages, and landed mentions in the New York Post, AP, and other outlets. "Our advertising was minor," she adds. "It was our PR efforts that got us the coverage that we got."

Raimondo's 11 years in marketing for MTV Networks primed her for this highly visible job.

"She has a superb ability to think simultaneously about big-picture goals as well as minute details," says Tim Tompkins, president of the TSA. "She has a grasp of the micro and the macro. And she's a very good manager."

Raimondo cites her appreciation for the history and the enormity of the event. "To be a part of New Year's Eve... 1 million people show up and a billion people watch it," she emphasizes. "The ability to throw a party for a million people was extremely attractive to me."

Lori Raimondo

Times Square Alliance, VP, marketing

MTVu, senior mktg. director

MTVN Music Group, VP, affiliate marketing

Showtime Networks, manager, national accounts

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