From Seeing Through the Illusion: Understanding Apple’s Mastery of the Media, a profile examining Apple’s PR strategy:


Post-Katie Cotton, members of Apple’s PR and Communications team are said to be excited about the new opportunities and tactics they will be able to execute under a friendlier, more transparent leader. Current and former employees say that Cook is likely looking at candidates with ties to world governments, expansive knowledge of labor force regulations, a deep understanding of China’s economics, and, of course, expertise in consumer technology and social media.

Cook has already expanded Apple’s executive team over the past year, adding leaders who fit those characteristics. For example, Cook hired former Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa P. Jackson as an executive to run Environmental Initiatives. He has also hired a new retail executive with immense experience with China, Angela Ahrendts, as well as people like Musa Tariq with extensive knowledge of social media-based communication and marketing. Cook has also brought former Senate staffer Amber Cottle into the fold, and has met with government officials more frequently than his predecessor.

All told, it would make sense for the person in charge of Apple’s refreshed communications approach to be a well-rounded person with deep knowledge of the aforementioned topics. Carney certainly fits many of those requirements, but current Apple PR heads Dowling and Kerris, too, have sufficient experience with their exhaustive tenures in Cupertino. If Apple wants to hire a new PR head to establish the face of the company for the next several decades, it is also possible that the company is looking at rising stars in the PR field from competitors in Silicon Valley. Apple’s hires have been diverse enough, however, that an executive could come from anywhere – so long as the candidate possessed the right skill set, experience, and temperament.

In the last several months, some hints at post-Katie Cotton Apple PR have already started to emerge.

Craig Federighi spent WWDC stage time poking fun at his colleagues, CFO Luca Maestri briefed select reporters ahead of earnings results calls, Jony Ive shook hands with adoring fans at Apple’s annual WWDC party, and Tim Cook and Phil Schiller publicly took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease — unsurprisingly, Dowling organized the Apple executives’ participation in the latter down to fine details. Perhaps most surprising is that Gizmodobest known in Apple circles for the lost iPhone 4 saga, has been invited to Apple’s September 9th iPhone and wearable device event after being shunned from Apple access since 2010. With Cotton no longer at the helm, it appears that Apple’s current PR staff is doing whatever will aid in the company’s dissemination of information, rather than what fits a political agenda.

Who Apple may end up choosing to run Apple PR and Communications is still unknown, but Cook’s team is certainly already changing a control-obsessed regime that some employees say simply lasted beyond its time. It remains to be seen whether those changes completely eliminate the company’s most manipulative past PR practices, or simply expand them to a wider collection of publications.

Image Credits: Getty Images, Flickr, AllThingsD, Google Street View, Fast Company, LinkedIn, CNET, Twitter

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27 Responses to “Part 9) A Friendlier, More Transparent Future?”

  1. Joey Cee says:

    I created a stupid facebook account just to say: This is the best 9to5 article I have ever read. Well done!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. j0hnf23 says:

    really cool article! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a nice article. Well researched and put together.

    It would be interesting to know how much people like Gruber are controlled by Apple PR really. I always thought that he raises some really fair points and can argue his position well but the way he attacks Apple naysayers….make it seem like Apple PR work.


    • I attack Apple naysayers more than Gruber does, and I don’t work for Apple’s PR. Maybe Gruber, like me, simply calls out idiots as we see them.


    • I think that at least in part this is a tone issue. “Apple has uncritical fanboys” has been common wisdom for so long that people really haven’t been taking very objective looks at the reality of the situation over the last few years. There’s a lot of valid criticism to be made of Apple’s products and corporate style, just like there are of any company, but an awful lot of the naysaying has become just as “religious” as any of the worst Apple zealotry.


    • Gruber get’s tarred unfairly on this. I wrote an entire chapter about this called the Fanboy Slam in Anatomy of an Apple – The Lessons Steve Taught Us.

      It barely ever gets mentioned that Gruber is the same guy who called Apple’s plan to limit third party iPhone apps in 2007, “a way to bullshit developers”, and, “a matter of spin”. Gruber also wrote a nearly 1,000 word post pissed off about Apple’s handling of Ninjawords developers. Pointing out the contradiction of Apple telling others to use web-apps while using native themselves, Gruber called it plain as day: “If all you have to offer is a shit sandwich, just say it. Don’t tell us how lucky we are and that it’s going to taste delicious!”

      If that’s an Apple fanboy, then the compass is truly screwed up.


  4. Joe Belkin says:

    PR is just PR. You can decide if it’s correct or worthwhile … you understand that a company has a POV … but as it’s pointed out, it’s WORSE when someone like the NY Times clearly has an agenda to make up “facts” (from that fat theater show guy) to try and win a Pultzer and show they are not in pockets of companies … of course, they still own a pulitzer for that so it goes to show that “journalism” is not always journalism either.


  5. This series was awesome, with a lot of previously unknown information. However, IMHO I’d love to see this also in a one page format, without having to go through 9 different parts.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Gurman’s article is a carefully researched and triaged thesis on the inner workings of Apple’s PR department and corporate management, but that is not why I gave it so much time reviewing it. The main value the article is as a case study of a major department of a company transitioning between Job’s autocratic management style–suitable to resurrecting a failing company–to a vanguard management style of a major profitable corporation. (P.S. I agree with Joey Cee’s Facebook comment, and I too would rather not have used Facebook.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. charismatron says:

    Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic article.

    More. like. this. please!


  8. This was an excellently researched article! I’ve read Mark Gurman’s work, and I really believe this is the best he’s done.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. In the end, I enjoyed this nine-part article because it shows that Apple has to start massively revamping itself to get beyond the influence of Steve Jobs, despite the fact Jobs’ tenure at Apple between 1997 and 2011 turned a company that was within months of going bankrupt into a company whose name be spoken of in the same breath as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Nike in terms of worldwide brand recognition.

    By 2010, it was obvious that Jobs’ dictatorial management style was starting hurt the reputation of the company. One wonders did Jobs even admitted this, and put in the current management structure so even if Jobs had been in better health, he would have stepped away from the company anyway.

    You can tell right now that in terms of PR, Apple has dialed down a lot of its arrogant attitude, especially noted in the second to last paragraph of the article. I would not be surprised that Apple and Google are working “behind the scenes” to settle their dispute over Android once and for all, and will announce a settlement probably early in 2015.


  10. rwanderman says:

    Excellent piece.


  11. Excellent read. I enjoy reading insights from behind the curtain.


  12. This series of articles only makes me even less willing to believe both Apple or any other Company’s new high-tech gadget review. It seems that many reviewers are not truly independent. Who’s views can we trust ?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m actually more skeptical of the motivations of the press in hyping negative concerns about Apple than I am in the fact that Apple does its best to manage these “attacks”. As a longtime follower of the tech media and those specializing in Apple in particular, I’ve read countless attacks on Apple that usually seem to take the most sensational approach – by hyperbolizing the importance of any potential negative – rather than reporting from an unbiased perspective. The media in general, whether reporting on politics, offering critique/reviews of various art forms, whatever, always seems to have an agenda that presupposes the willing credulity of their target audience. Apple, perhaps cynically, but more likely as a response to this reality, does its best to manipulate those in the media, and in turn the consumers of that media, often with spectacular results.

    Bravo, Apple.


  14. Well done Mark. Very comprehensive and well rounded article.


  15. As Macworld CEO (1995-2008) I had plenty of chances to interface with the Apple execs and the PR team. I could nit pick elements of the article but I thought the overall package gave some interesting perspective – especially dealing with the changing philosophy under Tim Cook’s leadership. Apple’s fortunes were very different back in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned. I did not not agree with all the tactics Apple PR used but the end result for that period of Apple’s “rebirth” were very, very effective. Despite the occasional flare-ups I retained the utmost respect for Katie, Steve Dowling, Nat, Bill and the corporate comms and PR teams. The company has evolved significantly. Much of Apple’s underlying DNA will remain intact but the sheer scale and global impact of the company means change is inevitable. I’ll be watching their strategy around the HealthKit initiatives very carefully as I believe that’s the game changer.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Interesting article.

    The most interesting fact is, however, that in one part you write that Apple does everything on purpose. That it leaks information only to certain people at a specific time.

    In the article many times you say that apple wants to change its image. So I think that this article is the first way for them to change their image to the better ;)


  17. Frank O'Kelly says:

    A really well written article, thank you.


  18. Frank Ch. Eigler says:

    Lisa Jackson working for Apple? Don’t you mean Richard Windsor?


  19. This is a really good and interesting article that raises some points. Hopefully Apple will be able to continue to adapt its PR divisions to meet the changing nature of consumers and the different ways in which news of the firm is broadcast.


  20. veshman says:

    As others have commented, what a great, insightful and thoughtful article. Beyond just great content, it’s just well written and was a pleasure to read. Well done.

    Great follow up comment from Colin Crawford as well.