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Old May 30, 2014, 08:21 PM   #1
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Apple's Longtime Public Relations VP Retires




As announced earlier this month, Katie Cotton, head of Apple's public relations department and an 18-year veteran at Apple, has left the company, reports Re/code.

Cotton is known for having been fiercely protective of Apple executives, particularly Steve Jobs, serving as gatekeeper for all media access and shepherding executives through their formal and informal meetings with the press.

Given Apple's penchant for secrecy, Cotton has long been tasked with keeping a tight rein on the company's PR operations, managing Apple's image and contributing to the company's presentations.

In a touching farewell piece, Re/code's Kara Swisher recounts Cotton's successful take-no-prisoners strategy:
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But, despite what many of her detractors have written since the news of her departure came, I was never "scared" of her, any more than I fear any of the other hard-charging PR and communications execs I have encountered over the many years I have covered tech.

Was she aggressive? Sure. (So is Facebook's Elliot Schrage.)

Did she sometimes ice our reporters out, ignore calls or reply with newsless answers? Sometimes. (Please meet Yahoo PR for much of my time covering it over the last 20 years, especially under the current administration, which does not return any of my calls.)

Did she try her hardest to showcase Apple and its products in a way that benefited it? Yep. (Paging Andreessen Horowitz's Margit Wennmachers!)

Was she vocal when she did not like something we did? And how. (So are Microsoft's Frank Shaw and Google's Rachel Whetstone, both of whom can throw a decent uppercut at me when they are not happy with something we have written.)

So what? That kind of hard driving is part and parcel to the business, even if she was harder driving and, because of that, more successful than most. As she once told me when we talked about her outsize reputation in the tech press: "I am not here to make friends with reporters, I am here to put a light on and sell Apple products."
Swisher goes on to note that many negative comments made about Cotton might not have been made about a man in such a powerful position, saying that reporters who "did not get any PR love" from the company should "grow up."

Article Link: Apple's Longtime Public Relations VP Retires
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:23 PM   #2
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Hopefully they'll actually reply to PR emails.
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:30 PM   #3
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That kind of hard driving is part and parcel to the business....
It's also idiot public relations. Secrecy does not built trust, and a hard charging in your face attitude does not make friends. Both are a sign of weakness, not strength.
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:31 PM   #4
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Friends

****** values. Ultimately nothing is more important than making friends.

Hard-driving is not the same thing as being an *******.
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:35 PM   #5
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I think - She has done her Job, perhaps exceptionally well..!!!
Her contribution (in shielding from press & media) may have helped the execs in keeping them focus on delivery and avoid going through roller-coaster rides from media.
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:35 PM   #6
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Kara's "Touching Farewell Piece" sounds like pointless name dropping to me. "Look at all these people I know!"

I never did like her, especially when she was interviewing Jobs for All Things D.
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:41 PM   #7
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Saddening

Saddening that she's leaving. I kinda liked her. Despite her not being the most seen face at the company (to the public).
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Old May 30, 2014, 08:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Felasco View Post
It's also idiot public relations. Secrecy does not built trust, and a hard charging in your face attitude does not make friends. Both are a sign of weakness, not strength.
Adam Osborne thought the same way as you. His computer company when Belly Up because of it. A tech company cannot pre-announce product until it's near ready to ship. No, secrecy does not build trust with partners, but customers are not that. What builds trust with partners is putting out fairly reliable products & standing behind them.
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Old May 30, 2014, 09:03 PM   #9
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I would argue in turn that human relations are human relations, and that the particular business one is in has little to do with it.

Please understand that I say the following as a perl programming and philosophy nerd with significantly underdeveloped social skills, well documented across the forum....

I've always felt that Apple's corporate personality reflects the strengths and weaknesses of Steve Job's personality to an amazing degree. It's remarkable how much influence a single charismatic person can have.

Jobs was obviously a brilliant highly articulate visionary with an incredible passion and talent for product development, but he could also be a first class jerk who even turned his back on his own first born child.

Jobs was a nerd. I'm a nerd. Apple is a nerd. Nerds can be brilliant at many things, but dealing with people is generally not considered to be one of those things. And there's no fancy code one can write to fix it.
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Old May 30, 2014, 09:08 PM   #10
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This is a terrible picture.
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Old May 30, 2014, 10:02 PM   #11
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An example of good public relations, from within Apple.

In another thread some poor user was installing Mavericks over and over, trying to get it to work.

An Apple programmer who is working on Mavericks entered the thread and told the user that Mavericks was released with known bugs, and that reinstalling probably wouldn't help. Instead he advised patience, and said that every effort was being made to fix the problems.

Most importantly, the Apple programmer also apologized for the unhappy experience the user was having. The apology seemed sincere to this reader. The apology was even more convincing given that the problem undoubtably arises from the business folks at Apple, and not the coders.

That's good public relations. The truth, combined with apologies where appropriate. This builds credibility, trust and good will.

As example, Apple has a reasonable case to make as to why a new operating system needs contact with the real world in order to mature. But they don't make that case in an honest forthright way. Instead, they tell millions of inexperienced general public users the software is done, ready to be installed in place of their existing, and working, OS.

The programmer had it right. The sales weenies didn't.
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Old May 30, 2014, 10:29 PM   #12
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It's also idiot public relations. Secrecy does not built trust, and a hard charging in your face attitude does not make friends. Both are a sign of weakness, not strength.
When the people you deal with exist to get attention talking about you, regardless of reality and also want to have their butt kissed in the process, you couldn't be more wrong.

Apple more than any other company has people who make their living on just talking about apple. It doesn't have to be good and it doesn't have to be accurate. I would say it requires a very aggressive person to successfully manage that job.

If any shred of media ethics existed any more it might be slightly different but even that would not allow for much leniency.

Being a pr rep is different depending on the circumstance. Many, if not most companies need as much coverage as possible. So they have to finesse just to get coverage. The handful of companies in Apple's stratosphere don't need to acquire coverage. They get all the coverage possible and then some. At that point controlling the message is the dominant need.

The media ultimately gets to choose what they cover, and they take advantage of it. When they lose that power in a relationship they cry about it.
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Old May 30, 2014, 11:13 PM   #13
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This is a terrible picture.
That's low, yo. Don't do personal attacks. We all have our bad moments. Let's keep it classy.
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Old May 30, 2014, 11:17 PM   #14
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Bravo.

Sad to see her go.
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Old May 30, 2014, 11:26 PM   #15
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We've seen reporters paying for stolen goods and printing character assassinations of top execs.

So it's no wonder Apple want a person how is able to stand toe to toe with the press.

Katie Cotton seems to have been a winner and it's the bad losers that we are hearing the negative stuff from.
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Old May 31, 2014, 12:02 AM   #16
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Yay! Good riddance to that thick skulled idiot.
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Old May 31, 2014, 12:48 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Felasco View Post
It's also idiot public relations. Secrecy does not built trust, and a hard charging in your face attitude does not make friends. Both are a sign of weakness, not strength.
Yes, and as we all know, Apple has been so weak and unsuccessful over the years. I think we can all agree that their PR strategy failed dramatically.

/s

----------

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Originally Posted by derivativemusic View Post
****** values. Ultimately nothing is more important than making friends.

Hard-driving is not the same thing as being an *******.
My god, you're right...imagine how successful Apple might have been over the past 20 years if only you had been managing their PR.
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Old May 31, 2014, 01:48 AM   #18
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According to latest Apple moves, they could hire Rihanna or Kim Kardashian to be their PR VP. Of course, they should pay them in millions. Maybe even let go some engineers so they can save some cash. They have doctor in da hauuzzz nav, who will make everything! kaaachiing!
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Old May 31, 2014, 02:49 AM   #19
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This is a terrible picture.
Dat smile. Not sure if she's happy or ready to kill the photographer.

Yes sir, I'll have that report on your desk by first thing tomorrow.

Smile aside, not a bad effort rising to a high position in Apple. not everyone can do it.
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Old May 31, 2014, 03:41 AM   #20
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This is a terrible picture.
Bet your no oil painting yourself mate...
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Old May 31, 2014, 03:51 AM   #21
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I think she couldn't stand Dr. Dre and these lookalikes. So she left.
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Old May 31, 2014, 03:58 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by richwoodrocket View Post
This is a terrible picture.
Interesting. Did you happen to read the last paragraph of the article? If so, I'm wondering if this line applies in this instance as well:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swisher quoted in Golson
...many negative comments made about Cotton might not have been made about a man in such a powerful position...
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Old May 31, 2014, 04:49 AM   #23
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I wouldn't call that a touching farewell piece? Basically they painted her as a hardcore press manipulating sales person.

Anyway this is another rat leaving Cooks ship, let's hope the replacement gets Apple, or that Cook doesn't decide to change the formula.
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Old May 31, 2014, 05:41 AM   #24
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That's low, yo. Don't do personal attacks. We all have our bad moments. Let's keep it classy.
Hm. It's a complaint on the photographer, not the subject.
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Old May 31, 2014, 06:17 AM   #25
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Apple more than any other company has people who make their living on just talking about apple. It doesn't have to be good and it doesn't have to be accurate. I would say it requires a very aggressive person to successfully manage that job.
Where is Apple's blog, where it responds politely and professionally to inaccurate media reports using such an avalanche of well documented facts, ideally confirmed by independent third parties, that the sloppy journalist is revealed to be a bozo with little credibility?

Apple can be aggressive in the sense of creating a well funded team to identify each inaccurate media report and respond to it thoroughly. This can be done in a professional manner without Apple developing a reputation for being aggressive in the negative sense.

As example, MacRumors is a leading Apple forum. Posters such as myself often take Apple to task on various subjects, just as I'm doing here.

A single modestly paid English major type employee at Apple could be assigned to monitor this forum and respond to some of the challenges, presenting Apple's point of view.

If the challenger gets wound up and somewhat hysterical as often happens, and the poster from Apple remains calm and professional, Apple is probably going to win that thread.

As others observe the challenger being defeated by well presented facts, they will become more careful about their own challenges, and the dialog environment is enhanced.

I should add that I often make many of the same mistakes Apple makes. Sometimes I have a valid point, but I get too hard charging and ruthless about it, which alienates readers and makes it harder or impossible for me to build a coalition in favor of my position.

Steve Jobs used to needlessly alienate people. I do it too. So does Apple. The medical term for this is Persistent Nerd Syndrome.
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