Cotton spearheaded Apple's secretive, but successful comms strategy

When Katie Cotton, VP of worldwide corporate communications at Apple, earned the top spot on PRWeek's Power List in 2010 alongside Apple's cofounder and CEO, the late Steve Jobs, she was recognized for leading the incredibly successful and mysterious communications culture behind the company.

When Katie Cotton, VP of worldwide corporate communications at Apple, earned the top spot on  PRWeek's Power List in 2010 alongside Apple's cofounder and CEO, the late Steve Jobs, she was recognized for leading the incredibly successful and mysterious communications culture behind the company.

On Wednesday, Cotton confirmed that she is leaving her role at Apple after 18 years with the company to spend more time with her children.

Her entry in the 2010 Power List stated: "It is certainly tough to assess the communications strategy of a company whose official policy resembles the ancient Sicilian code of omerta. Despite its reticence to act ‘normally’ – or perhaps due to it – Apple's products attract credibility, mystique, and reputation beyond any PR strategy."

The profile added that "the strategy annoys competitors and industry observers alike – but it works."

In 2012, Cotton made the PRWeek Power List rankings again, and the profile said that "Apple stubbornly refuses to conform to traditional communications norms, making a feature of its lack of openness that historically contributed to the mystique and air of exclusivity around the brand, as well as some frustration."

Despite Apple’s comms secrecy, Cotton told PRWeek in 2012 that the company would become "the most transparent company in the world" on issues such as social change, supplier responsibility, and the environment.

Frank Shaw, corporate VP of corporate communications at longtime Apple competitor Microsoft, shared some thoughts on Cotton’s departure on Wednesday on Twitter.

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