Longtime Apple PR head Katie Cotton officially retires

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2014
Friday marks the last day of work for Apple's longtime PR chief Katie Cotton. After spending 18 years in Cupertino, much of it as a handler for late cofounder Steve Jobs, the company's vice president of worldwide corporate communications will step down to spend more time with her family.


Katie Cotton speaks with Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller and Jony Ive. Photo via Inc..


In an essay covering Cotton's career at Apple, Re/code's Kara Swisher revealed that the PR guru will be heading for the door after the workday is over. Cotton's retirement was announced earlier in May, though at the time a definitive exit date had not been set.

Cotton was a polarizing figure for the media due to her aggressive protection of Apple and tight control over what information. Some had taken to calling her derogatory names, though Swisher notes PR heads at most other big-name tech firms are cut from the same cloth.

As one of the most powerful executives at Apple, Cotton kept somewhat of a low profile. Her behind-the-scenes influence was unquestionable, however, as seen by her handling of Jobs' long-term illness and other controversies like the stock backdating scandal.

Her operating style of being tight-lipped and selective in what statements were issued proved impressively effective, with journalists clamoring to get any scrap of information from Apple as other companies pushed regular press releases. Cotton created a demand for Apple news and tantalized reporters with very little supply.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling, who announced Cotton's departure, is thought to be in the running to replace the PR chief. Another candidate is Natalie Kerris. Both Dowling and Kerris have been with Apple for over ten years.

Cotton said the decision to leave was "hard," saying Apple was "a part of (her) heart," but in the end she chose to spend more time with her children.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 146
    ttollertonttollerton Posts: 164member
    Who proof-reads these articles?
  • Reply 2 of 146
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,348member
    Good riddance, part of the Steve Jobs era that really deserves to be shown the door and handed her hat.

    She has been an unabashed, unapologetic and [B][SIZE=4][COLOR=red]crushingly unconvincing liar[/COLOR][/SIZE][/B] on behalf of the company (primarily for Steve).

    She fulfilled an important role in the company at the time, although she largely fell silent about a year before Steve's passing, probably because no one sane would believe what she uttered, like the "Steve is out with a virus" B.S. which because increasingly shrill and ludicrous.

    But hey, high tech public relations is one of the most soulless careers on the planet, it's rather surprising that anyone can survive nearly two decades in such a soul-sucking role. Hopefully there's something still left in her heart.

    I sincerely wish her the best of luck on her future endeavors. For everyone's sake, let's hope it has nothing to do with public relations.
  • Reply 3 of 146
    island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member

    This thread will be worth a return visit just for the responses.

  • Reply 4 of 146
    buckalecbuckalec Posts: 192member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post



    Good riddance, part of the Steve Jobs era that really deserves to be shown the door and handed her hat.



    She has been an unabashed, unapologetic and crushingly unconvincing liar on behalf of the company (primarily for Steve).



    She fulfilled an important role in the company at the time, although she largely fell silent about a year before Steve's passing, probably because no one sane would believe what she uttered (like the "Steve is out with a virus" B.S.).



    But hey, high tech corporate P.R. is one of the most soulless careers on the planet, it's rather surprising that anyone can survive nearly two decades in such a role.



    Best of luck to her on her future endeavors.

    Personally & financially I'm very thankful for the Steve years myself! PR is PR, its part of the game, pre-dating capitalism probably

  • Reply 6 of 146
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    I'm wondering how many of these long timers that are retiring are related to the Beats buyout or their confidence in Cook. It would be an interesting read to have interviews with all of these people retiring would actually speak candidly as to why they are retiring, when they certainly are still young enough to continue working.

  • Reply 7 of 146
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,591member
    mpantone wrote: »
    Good riddance, part of the Steve Jobs era that really deserves to be shown the door and handed her hat.

    She has been an unabashed, unapologetic and crushingly unconvincing liar on behalf of the company (primarily for Steve).

    She fulfilled an important role in the company at the time, although she largely fell silent about a year before Steve's passing, probably because no one sane would believe what she uttered, like the "Steve is out with a virus" B.S. which because increasingly shrill and ludicrous.

    But hey, high tech public relations is one of the most soulless careers on the planet, it's rather surprising that anyone can survive nearly two decades in such a soul-sucking role. Hopefully there's something still left in her heart.

    I sincerely wish her the best of luck on her future endeavors. For everyone's sake, let's hope it has nothing to do with public relations.

    In other words, she was doing her job. Go away now.
  • Reply 8 of 146
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    drblank wrote: »
    I'm wondering how many of these long timers that are retiring are related to the Beats buyout or their confidence in Cook. It would be an interesting read to have interviews with all of these people retiring would actually speak candidly as to why they are retiring, when they certainly are still young enough to continue working.
    Maybe because working at Apple is not easy and some of them are just plain tired? Both Katie Cotton and Greg Christie worked at Apple for a long time.
  • Reply 9 of 146
    arlorarlor Posts: 479member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post





    In other words, she was doing her job. Go away now.

     

    I'm not siding with the guy you're quoting, but even if it is her job to lie, presumably it's to do so convincingly, not unconvincingly. 

     

    Jobs may well not have let the management circle know the full extent of his health problems.

  • Reply 10 of 146
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post



    Good riddance, part of the Steve Jobs era that really deserves to be shown the door and handed her hat.



    She has been an unabashed, unapologetic and crushingly unconvincing liar on behalf of the company (primarily for Steve).



    She fulfilled an important role in the company at the time, although she largely fell silent about a year before Steve's passing, probably because no one sane would believe what she uttered, like the "Steve is out with a virus" B.S. which because increasingly shrill and ludicrous.



    But hey, high tech public relations is one of the most soulless careers on the planet, it's rather surprising that anyone can survive nearly two decades in such a soul-sucking role. Hopefully there's something still left in her heart.



    I sincerely wish her the best of luck on her future endeavors. For everyone's sake, let's hope it has nothing to do with public relations.

    Well, if she told the media "Steve is out with a virus", she might have consulted with their attorneys or Steve (himself) to say that. We don't know what goes on behind closed doors.  I've been in situations where I knew the truth about something, and PR spun it differently but I wasn't allowed to speak publicly because it wasn't my job.  All kinds of things go on behind the scenes.  I believe only about 50% of what Corporate people say these days.  It's what they don't say that they elude in their own unique way is what is hard to figure out.



    Name someone in PR that's honest.   You are speaking of a position within a company that is SUPPOSED to lie for the company.  That's their job. Same thing with CEO's of publicly traded companies, Head Counsel, etc. It's what they are TOLD to do and largely from lawyers.  If they told the truth, the lawsuits would fly and the stock would drop.   That's the job of PR.  So anyone ACTING on behalf of the company is acting the capacity of a PR campaign..   Hence CueBall, Iovine, and Cook on their campaign to spin the Beats buyout.  They spin it the way they want to spin it.  That's PR.

  • Reply 11 of 146
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,819member
    I feel that Apple's PR has been lacking in the last few years.

    Many of these folks -- e.g., Oppenheimer, now Cotton -- started with a much smaller company, and suddenly found themselves at the helm of a half-trillion dollar behemoth, trying to do the same job they were doing in the past.

    Apple simply outgrew their competencies.
  • Reply 12 of 146
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,591member
    drblank wrote: »
    I'm wondering how many of these long timers that are retiring are related to the Beats buyout or their confidence in Cook. It would be an interesting read to have interviews with all of these people retiring would actually speak candidly as to why they are retiring, when they certainly are still young enough to continue working.

    Zero
  • Reply 13 of 146
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,348member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post



    In other words, she was doing her job. Go away now.

    No, because she was clearly lying and basically clammed up the last year of Steve's life, probably because everything she uttered was insanely unbelievable.

     

    Her aggressiveness was not the optimal way to address Steve's absence, she basically dissolved the Apple PR department's credibility. At least one image of a very frail Steve (with an IV drip) appeared in the media. It apparently was a real photo.

     

    She could have said "Apple does not comment on the medical condition of its executives" rather than the "Steve has a virus" B.S.

     

    Dowling has been the corporate spokesperson since Steve's passing. I don't think her name has been on press releases for years, let alone any sort of quotes in the media.

     

    Note that Apple's stock did not completely tank when Steve passed away. The market (fund managers, etc.) already knew what was going on.

     

    She did a job, but it was not the best. Again, I will point out that she has been almost completely mute since Steve's passing, nearly THREE YEARS AGO. That is a long damned time to be the head of a Fortune 500 company's PR department without making an utterance.

     

    Anyhow, she gets to live with her life choices. I will reiterate that I sincerely wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.

     

    I'm also impressed to see how many AI readers are Katie Cotton fans. Your prayers to her will be most welcome.

     

    Disclaimer: I am an AAPL shareholder.

  • Reply 14 of 146
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,819member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by drblank View Post



    Name someone in PR that's honest. 


    The issue is not honesty.

     

    It's competence.

  • Reply 15 of 146
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    I feel that Apple's PR has been lacking in the last few years.

    Many of these folks -- e.g., Oppenheimer, now Cotton -- started with a much smaller company, and suddenly found themselves at the helm of a half-trillion dollar behemoth, trying to do the same job they were doing in the past.

    Apple simply outgrew their competences.

    Maybe based the decisions of the CEO. He's out of his element as a CEO, he was better just dealing with internal operations, which is what he was good at, but as CEO, he's not always made great decisions. I don't she wants to do anything with Dre and is probably disgusted with what his music represents. I know others at Apple that aren't thrilled with Dre bring part of Apple. I wonder who they are going to get to replace her.
  • Reply 16 of 146
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    jungmark wrote: »
    Zero
    jungmark wrote: »
    Zero

    How can you be so sure on that? You own mentality? I think it's awfully coincidental since it's all happening within a month of the buyout when the company is in the midst of some "revolutionary" products. What has she done recently that so bad that she feels like retiring? PR isn't always direly responsible for what they tell the public, a lot what they say is what they are told by the lawyers and they just spin it to make their lawyers happy.
  • Reply 17 of 146
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    The issue is not honesty.

    It's competence.

    She wasn't fired. If she was fired, then maybe I would believe your statement, but she is retiring.
  • Reply 18 of 146
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,819member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by drblank View Post



    She wasn't fired. If she was fired, then maybe I would believe your statement, but she is retiring.

    LOL. My assessment is far more plausible than your ridiculous, ludicrous conspiracy-theory-laden nonsense about her exit having something to do with the Beats acquisition. <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 19 of 146
    U must not have much experience with the PR business.
  • Reply 20 of 146
    LOL. My assessment is far more plausible than your ridiculous, ludicrous conspiracy-theory-laden nonsense about her exit having something to do with the Beats acquisition. :lol:

    People are so incredibly brave on the internet.
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