Apple’s longtime PR chief Katie Cotton retires

Katie Cotton (headshot 001)

As Apple announced earlier this month, its vice president of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton has left the company. According to a report from Recode, today was the last day of her 18-year tenure in Cupertino.

Cotton was a polarizing figure in the tech world. Tasked with being the media gatekeeper for one of the most secretive companies in the world, she was known for her aggressive protection of Apple and tight control over information…

Apple's Latest iPhone Models Go On Sale Across U.S.Katie Cotton and Tim Cook

Here’s Recode’s Kara Swisher on Cotton’s controversial PR strategy:

To my mind — and you can accuse me of being in some fictional tank for Apple all you like — Cotton was a strong and unwavering proponent for the company and did that using techniques that she felt were best for the company and its charismatic leader, Jobs.

In fact, this is a very important point. We often forget she worked for most of her career for him, and this is also how he wanted the communications around Apple to be. Cotton was in close collaboration with Jobs, who more than most CEOs, had strong ideas about press relations and also direct lines to reporters.

This was a double-edged sword, because she worked for a tech legend who wanted exactly what he wanted when it came to media. But it was clear that both saw the press as extremely important, although largely for the opportunity to repeat and validate what they were saying. Neither suffered fools, and neither had much use for those with tough criticism or opposing views.

But it worked and brilliantly, as Apple has become pretty much the most successful brand on the planet under her tenure. Amazing launches, incredibly tightly held and presenting Apple in the best possible way. 

Following the initial announcement, Cotton said that the decision to leave the company was ‘hard,’ as Apple has been ‘apart of (her) heart.’ But in the end she decided that she wanted to spend more time with her family and children.

Katie-CottonPhil Schiller, Katie Cotton and Steve Jobs

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling and spokeswoman Natalie Kerris, who have both been at Apple for 10+ years, are rumored to be in the running for Cotton’s position.