BEDMINSTER, NJ: AT&T has named Constance Weaver to its top communications post, succeeding Dick Martin, who plans to retire.
Weaver, who was named EVP for PR and brand management, was previously VP of IR at AT&T, and had been working closely with Martin in what she concedes was an informal succession plan.
She will oversee a communications staff of nearly 200 people. AT&T is in the process of searching for a new head of IR.
Weaver will report to CEO C. Michael Armstrong and CEO-elect David Dorman, who is expected to assume Armstrong's role later this year.
Weaver said the increasingly close cooperation between the IR and PR functions should ease her transition.
"It's hard to do IR and not be married to your PR people these days," said Weaver. "It's allowed Dick and I to work very closely during our six years together."
Previous to her time at AT&T, Weaver worked within the IR departments of Microsoft and MCI Communications. She takes the communications helm at a time of transition for both AT&T and the telecommunications industry in general. The company is in the process of divesting itself of the cable assets it bought during the boom-time 1990s, while much of the rest of the industry is hobbled by scandals and mountains of debt.
Weaver said she believes that AT&T will emerge from its forthcoming cable divestiture with a more streamlined operation and a more straightforward communications story. She also hinted that the company was in a good position to attract customers from some of its embattled competitors.
"We are going to be running a focused communications company," she said. "One that knows who its customers are and what its business model is. So we really are in a good position to take advantage of customers who are trying to figure out who they want as partners for the long term."