Tim Cook China

(Tim Cook in China with Katie Cotton)

Now that Apple’s PR chief and VP of Corporate Communications Katie Cotton has officially joined the growing group of retiring Apple leadership, Tim Cook is searching for the company’s next VP of Communications. Re/code reports that Apple is looking outside the company, however, rather than promoting someone internally to permanently fill the role.

And though there are at least two well-qualified internal candidates for the job — comms veterans Steve Dowling and Nat Kerris — Apple is also looking outside the company for Cotton’s replacement. Sources in position to know tell Code/red that CEO Tim Cook is overseeing the search, aiming to find some high-profile external candidates for consideration. And he’s paying particular attention to those he believes could put a friendlier, more approachable face on Apple’s public relations efforts.

The move to find someone from outside Apple to follow Katie Cotton is not unlike Tim Cook’s decision to replace Apple Retail’s VP Ron Johnson first with outside hire John Browett, then CEO of Dixons, followed by current Retail VP Angela Ahrendts, formerly CEO of Burberry.

News that Katie Cotton would retire from her role at Apple was first reported just over one month ago.