Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Vice President of Worldwide Communications Katie Cotton is retiring according to reports breaking across Silicon Valley this afternoon. The executive has been central to the growth of Apple over the last two decades, and her loss will be felt on the top floor of the company’s offices. Her shoes will be hard to fill after eighteen years of constant improvement of the company’s brand image.

Katie Cotton Apple

The news was reported by John Paczkowski at  Recode.net this afternoon. According to the piece, Cotton is leaving because of a desire to spend time with her children. the executive told the outlet “Apple is part of my heart.” Little else about the PR genius’ decision to leave the company had been revealed at time of writing.

Katie Cotton leaves Apple

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) VP Katie Cotton has served in several roles at Apple since joining the company eighteen years ago. The executive has shaped and focused the Apple message in her time at the company, and her position as the voice of CEOs Tim Cook and Steve Jobs allowed few to glimpse behind the curtain.

Cotton’s tenure at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be remembered for the products that made the company what it is today. The company has completely turned itself around since Cotton joined its ranks. Investors will be interested to know that the company’s stock has multiplied in value by about twenty times since the executive signed on.

Apple PR machine continues to roll

As the death of Steve Jobs demonstrated clearly, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is much bigger than any single person working to further the company’s goals. With Katie Cotton out of the picture Apple will have to continue selling its devices, and it will have to continue marketing them in the way it has done for the past few years. Those marketing efforts have helped the company to become the most valuable in the world, so there’s little reason to change the formula.

Saying that marketing is a big part of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) success is often taken as a disparaging statement, but it is an insult to managers like Katie Cotton to think that advertising and communications had nothing to do with the Apple charge to computing dominance. Now that the vice president has decided to step down from her post, the company’s marketing efforts must remain strong as it tries to transform itself once again.