Verizon Wireless appoints new head of comms

BASKING RIDGE, NJ: Verizon Wireless' head of communications since the company's creation, Jim Gerace, was named president of Verizon's New York region April 5.

BASKING RIDGE, NJ: Verizon Wireless' head of communications since the company's creation, Jim Gerace, was named president of Verizon's New York region April 5. He will manage corporate issues for the company as a whole in New York, including philanthropy and government and external affairs.

Marquett Smith, president of Verizon Wireless' upstate New York region, succeeds him where he will oversee national media relations, community relations, and employee communication, and serve as the wireless division's chief spokesman. Verizon Wireless is the largest US mobile operator by subscriber figures.

Jim GeraceGerace has worked in the telecommunications industry for decades as a communications professional. He was named VP of PR in 1995 when Bell Atlantic Mobile and NYNEX Mobile merged, and subsequently handled communications during the merger of Bell Atlantic Mobile and AirTouch that resulted in the new Verizon Wireless brand in 2000.

“This is a great opportunity for me to broaden my experience while using the skills I've developed in communications,” Gerace told PRWeek by e-mail.

Smith's background is in customer service. He has worked at Verizon since 2002 in various customer service management positions, including where he oversaw the company's national customer service operations. For the last few years, he oversaw sales, marketing, and customer service throughout the upstate region.

Although lacking a PR background, Smith said he believed his national-level experience “will serve me well,” as well as his “well-tenured and professional team.”

Research and Markets predicts Verizon's market share will increase from 32% to 36.5% over the next five years. The company has been locked in a aggressive ad battle with its fiercest competitor, AT&T. Rumors have also swirled that Verizon will soon be able to offer the popular iPhone, which AT&T currently enjoys as an exclusive, opening up a new opportunity for Verizon. AT&T continues to beat out Verizon in smartphone market share.

Smith, who will relocate to Verizon Wireless' New Jersey headquarters for the new position, said he hopes to “continue to drive excitement in the marketplace,” particularly as the company rolls out new handsets this year.

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