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Apple PR veteran Steve Dowling named interim communications chief

Katie Cotton speaks with Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller and Jony Ive. Photo via Inc..

Though the company was said to be looking outside of its ranks to find a new head of public relations, Apple's longtime corporate communications employee Steve Dowling was reportedly named interim PR chief last week by CEO Tim Cook.

Dowling's promotion was first revealed on Thursday by Re/code, and Apple confirmed the news. But his stay at the top may only be temporary, as Apple is said to still be evaluating outside candidates.

This summer, Cook was said to be personally overseeing the search for a new head of public relations at Apple. The CEO reportedly wants to put a "friendlier" face on his corporate communications team, which historically has been notoriously silent when dealing with the press.

Apple's previous head of public relations, Katie Cotton, left earlier this year after an 18-year tenure with the company. Cotton was known for being tight-lipped and selective in what statements were issued.

The position, officially titled vice president of corporate communications, reports directly to Cook. Dowling's veteran presence at Apple made him, along with Nat Kerris, a name frequently mentioned by company watchers as a likely candidate for the job.

Other noteworthy exits from Apple in recent years include former retail chief Ron Johnson, who left for an ill-fated stint as CEO of JC Penney; Scott Forstall, who was ousted from the company after struggles with the launch of iOS Maps; and John Browett, who was fired after a short tenure serving as Johnson's replacement.

The company's hardware engineering head, Bob Mansfield, announced his retirement in mid-2012, but the senior vice president was later convinced to stay. As of last July, Mansfield is no longer a part of Apple's executive team, but he continues to work on special projects.