Katie Cotton, Who Helped Elevate Apple’s Profile, Dies at 57

Katie Cotton, who as Apple’s longtime communications chief guarded the media’s entry to Steve Jobs, the corporate’s visionary co-founder, and helped arrange the introduction of lots of his merchandise, died on April 6 in Redwood Metropolis, Calif. She was 57.

Her loss of life, in a hospital, was confirmed by Michael Mimeles, her former husband. He didn’t give a trigger however mentioned that she had skilled problems from coronary heart surgical procedure she underwent a number of years in the past.

Ms. Cotton, who constructed a tradition of thriller by saying comparatively little, if something, to reporters, joined Apple in 1996 and commenced working with Mr. Jobs the following yr, quickly after he returned to the corporate after 12 years away. Apple was in poor monetary form on the time, however Ms. Cotton labored with him to engineer a putting turnaround.

Collectively they crafted a tightly managed public relations technique as the corporate recovered from steep losses and turned out one profitable product after one other, together with the iMac desktop pc and progressive digital gadgets just like the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

“She was formidable and hard and really protecting of each Apple’s model and Steve, notably when he obtained sick,” Walt Mossberg, a former expertise columnist for The Wall Avenue Journal, mentioned in a cellphone interview, referring to Mr. Jobs’s analysis of pancreatic most cancers in 2004. He added: “She was one of many few individuals he trusted implicitly. He listened to her. She may pull him again from one thing he supposed to do or say.” Mr. Jobs died in 2011 at 56.

Ms. Cotton spoke tersely, if in any respect, when reporters questioned her, however she may very well be useful when talking off the file or on background.

“She was accessible, she was a degree of contact,” mentioned John Markoff, a former expertise reporter for The New York Instances, “however generally it was hand-to-hand fight in the event that they wished to convey a narrative to the world and it wasn’t the story I wished to inform.”

Ms. Cotton additionally selected which reporters may communicate to Mr. Jobs (despite the fact that he would sometimes communicate, on his personal, to journalists he knew properly). In 1997, she invited a Newsweek reporter, Katie Hafner, to observe, together with Mr. Jobs, the primary industrial in Apple’s new “Suppose Totally different” promoting marketing campaign.

A tribute to “the loopy ones, the misfits, the rebels and the troublemakers,” a narrator intoned because the industrial opened with a nonetheless image of Mr. Jobs holding an apple in his left hand; it continued with clips of people that modified the world, amongst them Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, John Lennon, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Edison and Muhammad Ali.

“I appeared over and Steve was crying,” Ms. Hafner, who wrote about Apple for Newsweek and later for The Instances, mentioned in a cellphone interview. “I checked out Katie, and I couldn’t inform if she was moved or feeling triumphant — I don’t know — however I used to be full of admiration for her, as a result of she knew how one can play this and to provide me entry.”

Richard Stengel, a former managing editor of Time journal, mentioned in an e mail that Mr. Jobs “would name me 5 – 6 instances in a day to inform me I ought to do a narrative or not,” and that Ms. Cotton would “continuously name proper after and gently apologize or pull again one thing he had mentioned.” He added, “She was very loyal, however she noticed him in an unvarnished method.”

Kathryn Elizabeth Cotton was born on Oct. 30, 1965, in Washington, N.J. Her father, Philip, labored for a telecommunications firm. Her mom, Marie (Cuvo) Cotton, held varied jobs, together with caterer.

After graduating from the College of Arizona in 1988 with a bachelor’s diploma in journalism, Ms. Cotton labored at Dav-El Limousine in Los Angeles in gross sales, advertising and public relations earlier than shifting to the general public relations company Allison Thomas Associates. The corporate’s expertise shoppers included Mr. Jobs, who was then operating the expertise firm NeXT. However Ms. Thomas and Mr. Jobs had a falling-out earlier than Ms. Cotton was employed in about 1994.

“She was nice at what she did,” Ms. Thomas mentioned in a cellphone interview, “nevertheless it took some time for her obsessive work habits to grow to be clear.”

In mid-1996, when Gilbert Amelio was Apple’s chief government, the struggling firm employed Ms. Cotton to assist with its public relations. “Katie did tech P.R. earlier than it was hip and funky to do, and Apple wanted somebody along with her expertise,” mentioned Mr. Mimeles, her ex-husband, who additionally labored at Apple.

In late 1996, Apple acquired NeXT Software program, which introduced Mr. Jobs again to Apple as an adviser. He would grow to be the corporate’s interim chief government in 1997 and chief government three years later. That very same yr he elevated Ms. Cotton to run Apple’s public relations and communications. He finally named her vice chairman of worldwide communications, a title she held for a few years.

“When Steve got here again, he didn’t simply put key engineers in place,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice chairman of selling, mentioned. “He put the correct individuals in place to guide us across the firm, and Katie was a giant a part of that.”

She continued to work for Mr. Jobs till his loss of life, all of the whereas saying little publicly about his well being issues. She then labored for Tim Prepare dinner, his successor, till she retired in 2014.

One measure of her affect was a headline in Macworld journal: “Apple PR’s Cotton departs: What it may imply for the press.”

Ms. Cotton by no means held one other company job. She did some company consulting and mentored younger individuals at Menlo-Atherton Excessive Faculty in Atherton, Calif., which her youngsters attended, and on the Riekes Middle, a nonprofit academic group in Menlo Park, Calif.

She is survived by her mom; a daughter, Isabelle Mimeles; a son, Ethan Mimeles; her companion, Jim Wells; her sisters, Lori Ann David and Patty Stewart; and her brother, Richard Cotton.

After Mr. Jobs died, the promoting company TBWA/Media Arts Lab screened a proposed industrial for Ms. Cotton and two different Apple executives.

“It’s unhappy when a founder dies,” the industrial started, as recounted by the journalist Tripp Mickle (who now covers the tech business for The Instances) in “After Steve: How Apple Grew to become a Trillion-Greenback Firm and Misplaced Its Soul” (2022). “You surprise if you can also make it with out him. Do you have to put your courageous face on for the world, or simply be sincere?”

When it completed, Ms. Cotton was weeping.

“We will’t run this,” she mentioned. They by no means did.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles