Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 1
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Game Changers: Melissa Rosenthal Brenner

Brenner holds an NBA basketball, which she sees as a universal constant for the game she loves, whether it is played on MSG’s hardwood or a dirt court in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Organizational Drivers
Melissa Rosenthal Brenner
NBA | Senior Vice President, Marketing

he NBA already boasts one of the largest social media communities in the world, with some 400 million “likes” and followers on various social media outlets, according to league metrics. Look for that number to continue to grow under Melissa Rosenthal Brenner.

As senior vice president of marketing for the league, Brenner oversees the NBA’s social media efforts, driving a steady stream of new creative programs and partnerships. Consider that the NBA this year partnered with Twitter to deliver near-real-time postseason highlights, available just minutes after the action, fueling both traffic and interest during the NBA’s most visible period.

“We have young, tech-savvy fans,” Brenner said. “They consume all things NBA, and our job is to use the fervor of our fans to serve them the right content on the right platform at the right time.”

Considering that Brenner’s track record at the league includes additional groundbreaking deals with YouTube and Facebook, count on the NBA continuing to create even more successful social media partnerships and programs down the line.

— John Lombardo

  • Crowning professional achievement: Helping to build, with a truly amazing team, the most trafficked social media sports presence in the world.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: That we can’t make every opportunity work. There are so many interesting ideas in social media.
  • Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Marissa Mayer. Yahoo has a very significant digital sports presence, and she’s obviously an extremely successful executive.
  • Best advice you’ve received: Listen, listen and listen. (And when you get what you want in a negotiation, stop talking.)
  • What would you, at age 18, find surprising about the person you’ve become today?: Some things are still as important to me as they were then, and some are not remotely as important now. Also, that I’ve actually worked at the same place for more than 15 years.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Staying on top of the insanely fast-changing world of social media/technology.

“Melissa has been a true pioneer in the social media space. She has been with the league for almost 16 years and was an early adopter in new media, and under her leadership, we have built one of the largest social communities in the world. What makes her so good in leading our social media efforts is that she also has worked in other departments and understands that social media marketing is just part of our larger global marketing efforts.”

— Adam Silver | Deputy commissioner | NBA