Exelis, Xylem to promote own identities

MCLEAN, VA and WHITE PLAINS, NY: ITT Exelis and Xylem, the former defense and water businesses of ITT Corporation, respectively, debuted as independent companies Monday with robust in-house communications teams.

MCLEAN, VA and WHITE PLAINS, NY: ITT Exelis and Xylem, the former defense and water businesses of ITT Corporation, respectively, debuted as independent companies Monday with robust in-house communications teams.

Earlier this year, ITT said it would spin off two publicly traded businesses: ITT Exelis, a defense technology and information solutions company, and Xylem, a water technology company. Meanwhile, ITT will remain as a standalone engineered industrial company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Edelman, the AOR for the former ITT Corporation, has retained that relationship with all three companies, representatives from the firm said.

David Albritton is leading Exelis' in-house team as VP and CCO. He said his pre-spinoff internal comms team has joined him at Exelis along with two additional employees.

Exelis has hired Anne Eisele as director of global external affairs. She most recently served as director of financial communications at General Electric, and also worked in various director roles at Boeing.

The company has also moved BJ Talley, previously the manager of global PR at ITT Corporation's headquarters, into the role of head of employee engagement and digital communications.

Exelis has doubled the size of its McLean, VA headquarters staff to 125, noted Albritton. The company's in-house communications team has seven senior employees, including Albritton, Eisele, and Talley. Globally, the new company employs 21,000. The defense company has also retained TMP Government for advertising.

Albritton described the spinoff as a "unique opportunity" for its business in which the communications team can offer a more focused strategy, as well as a new brand identity.

"As part of ITT Corporation, we were part of a multi-industrial company," he continued. "We sold everything from brake shoes and shock absorbers to night-vision goggles, electronic warfare equipment, and composite aerostructures, and so there was never any ability to focus on one critical market because you had such a diverse portfolio."

Meanwhile, Angela Buonocore will lead the internal and external communications team of Xylem, ITT's former water-technology business, as SVP and CCO. She previously served as SVP and CCO of ITT Corporation. The new company employs nearly 12,000 globally. Albritton and Jennifer Schiavone, the respective leaders of the comms departments of Exelis and the remaining ITT, previously reported to Buonocore.

Her senior leadership team will include Tom Glover, a 14-year veteran of ITT Corporation, as VP of external communications; Cristal Downing as director of employee engagement communications; and Michael Fields as director of Xylem Watermark, the company's corporate citizenship and social investment program.

Xylem, based in White Plains, NY, has about 40 employees on its in-house communications team.

"Truthfully, each of these companies will now be more focused, and the water business specifically can make its appropriate decisions about where to invest, and what are the best strategies to move the water business forward," said Buonocore. "As a pure-play company, it really gives us a different vantage point."

She added that a new advertising campaign for Xylem will launch tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Xylem is facing a court battle over its new name. Xylem Group LLC, a manufacturer of bath and plumbing products, said it has had ownership of the brand since 2005, but Buonocore told PRWeek that Xylem's "products, customers, and channels are very different from those of the other company" and they "really feel there's no reasonable likelihood of confusion between the companies."

Communications for the remaining ITT company is led by Schiavone, the former director of PR at ITT Corporation, as CCO. The company's comms team has 12 employees across both its corporate and business units. It has hired Kathleen Bark as director of external affairs, and Leila Siman as director of employee engagement communications, as well as administrative support. Bark and Siman worked in communications roles at Medtronic and MasterCard, respectively.

ITT, based in White Plains, NY, employs about 8,000 staffers.

"The company is nearly 100 years old," said Schiavone. “And yet because of the spinoff, we're really sort of like a startup. From a communications standpoint, we have the opportunity to focus on storytelling in a whole new way. We're redefining who the company is now."

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