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 Gizmodo, best 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.
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