Apple looks to put on ‘friendlier’ PR face, post-Katie Cotton

Katie Cotton with an Apple executive talking to a reporter

Katie Cotton and her death stare with Apple exec Phil Schiller talking to a reporter. 

Now that Katie Cotton, Apple’s longtime head of corporate communication, has retired, Tim Cook is on the hunt for a “friendly, more approachable” face to head its PR going forward.

According to Re/code, Apple is looking outside the company for high-profile candidates to fill Cotton’s role. Depending on who replaces her, Apple’s relationship with the media could begin to warm up considerably.

Known for her legendarily cold shoulder toward the press, Cotton crafted Apple’s corporate mystique for nearly two decades and worked closely with Steve Jobs. Her team is notorious for not returning phone calls and emails from reporters. Ask just about anyone covering tech, and it’s safe to say that Apple PR won’t exactly be characterized as friendly or helpful.

Here’s an example of what it could be like to work with Cotton and her team in an interview situation:

Steve Dowling and Nat Kerris, two longtime Apple PR veterans, are more than qualified to be Cotton’s replacement, and both were “groomed” to do PR under Steve Jobs. Re/code notes that if Apple brings someone in from the outside instead, it could signal a huge shift away from the era of secrecy that its PR department has operated under for so long.

Is Apple starting to lighten up, or at least become more self-aware? It certainly appears so. When the schedule for the Worldwide Developers Conference was published a couple of weeks ago, Apple poked fun at its own secrecy with clever developer session titles like “No Comment.” Devs typically have to sign a strict nondisclosure agreement to not share anything about Apple beta software publicly, but that has been loosened this year.

As our own Leander Kahney noted, WWDC 2014 brought Apple’s most enjoyable keynote in a long time. Craig Federighi was cracking jokes left and right onstage, and he took countless selfies with WWDC attendees throughout the week.

If the new Apple is OK with “OS X Weed” jokes and selfies, sign me up.

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About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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