Anita J. Bizzotto: Knox Alum in charge of marketing Postal Service

by Norm Winick

The U. S. Postal Service is at ground zero in dealing with anthrax and a Knox graduate, Anita Bizzotto, '74, is at ground zero of the post office's response team. Bizzotto, chief marketing officer and senior vice-president of the postal service since September 7th, has seen her job responsibilities grow dramatically in the month and a half she's been at the helm. Reporting directly to the Postmaster General, Bizzotto's job includes creating and marketing all e commerce initiatives, developing and promoting new products, promoting the Postal Service, establishing rates and classifications and, now, helping to craft the Postal Service's response to the anthrax attacks.

She's been one of the spokespersons for the Postal Service and is knee-deep in the response effort. ''We're still working on a process for sanitizing mail,'' she says, and the mechanics have not been worked out yet. I have been dealing with industry and the big mailers. I've been working to reassure them and their customers that the mail is safe. We have provided a lot of information to them on mailroom security and how to deal with suspicious items.''

''There's a lot going on. What impact this will have on mail volume and design has yet to be determined. There are a lot of people working very hard on trying to develop solutions. We've been working closely with many federal agencies to insure the safety of postal employees and everyone else -- because everyone sends or receives mail.''

Bizzotto started working for the Post Office in the Chicago suburbs during her long holiday breaks while a Knox student. ''My mother was a postal worker and that helped me get started. I worked for the Post Office the summer after I graduated; I took a job for what I thought would be a temporary period -- a window and distribution clerk in Worth, Ill. In the late 1970s, I got an opportunity to be in a management training program and I became a supervisor. In 1981, I entered a professional training program in the central region which was based in Chicago at the main Post Office.''

''I just kept taking on jobs with increasing areas of responsibility. In the fall of 1992, I moved to Washington, D.C. to be Manager of Business Mail Acceptance. We approved all the rules for business mail. In 1998, I was the Postal service's Sloan fellow at M.I.T and I earned a Master's in Management. I was named Vice-president of Pricing and Product Design and this September was named Chief Marketing Officer.''

Among her responsibilities are overseeing the Postal Service's contract with Tour de France multiple-winner Lance Armstrong. ''We just renewed it for three years. We think of cycling as a great opportunity to reach out in a sport everyone's familiar with. we also relate it to teamwork; Lance couldn't be where he is without his team -- just like the USPS. He's been a great spokesman for us.''

''My job is primarily to grow our business. I am always looking for new products and services that will expand our business domestically and internationally. Bizzotto emphasized that the Postal Service is a quasi-governmental agency. ''We're part of the executive branch but we receive no tax dollars. We can't just raise our prices or cut services if we run a deficit. We are mandated by law to provide universal service to every home and business in the United States. Congress has set special classifications -- like requiring the special rate for in-county mail that small periodicals like yourself get to take advantage of -- and we can't easily change those. There's a Postal Rate Commission that establishes rates; we just get to make requests. Compared to other businesses, our options to increase revenue or cut services are very limited.''

''There are huge public policy issues determined by what we do in the Postal Service. We always have to keep that in mind as we make decisions effecting virtually every U.S. resident.''

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online November 3, 2001

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