After 33 years of working in the directory business, Dennis Payne has been a firsthand witness to the changes and evolution in the industry. Denny began working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. as a directory sales rep in Kansas City when it was a division of the giant AT&T Corp. He was there in January 1984 when SBC was created after the breakup of the Bell System. By 1990, he was a regional manager, and in 1997 became the vice president – sales for Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages. In January 2000, Denny was named vice president – sales for Ameritech Advertising Services. He became president of SBC Directory Operations in October 2001. With the purchase of AT&T and adoption of its name, Denny was named president and CEO of AT&T Yellow Pages. Finally, with the acquisition of BellSouth and the merger of BAPCO’s business into AT&T’s Yellow Pages operation, Denny became the president and CEO of AT&T Advertising & Publishing, the largest print and online Yellow Pages operation in the world.
Those are the descriptive facts of Denny’s rise, but they only tell part of the story. SBCDO was the last of the RBOCs to embrace new technologies, and Denny led the massive mind-set change that was necessary. The most important piece of that puzzle was the joint purchase of the Yellowpages.com network by BellSouth and AT&T. In listing the top national IYP properties by share of IYP searches, comScore research shows the Yellow Pages network with a market share of 17.6 percent. q1-07-marketshare.ppt
As the keynote speaker at last year’s Directory Driven Commerce conference, Denny told the audience, “If we approach change with a real passion for our business, our products and our customers … the Yellow Pages industry has a long, strong future.” Denny had that passion, twice serving as chairman of the board of the Yellow Pages Association and serving on the board of the Association of Directory Marketing.
Most important, he was one of the many good guys in the business. When I spoke to him last night and asked what advice he would give to someone starting out in the industry, he quickly replied, “I would tell the rookie to master all of the different components of the Yellow Pages solution so you can understand the real potential of the business.”
Replacing Denny will be Frank Jules, AT&T senior vice president – business marketing. For a little bit of insight about Frank, you might find this page one article in The Wall Street Journal (subscription req’d) before the SBC-AT&T merger interesting. We welcome Frank to the industry at this time of change and wish Denny well in retirement.