Tesla badly needs to bring back its PR department

I think it’s high time for Tesla to bring back a Press Relations (PR) department and have other ways to communicate than through the increasingly polarizing Elon Musk.

Tesla stopped answering press inquiries in 2020, and Electrek later reported that CEO Elon Musk dissolved Tesla’s whole press department.

At the time, the CEO told us that any question should go through him.

In 2021, Musk commented on someone asking for Tesla to hire a PR department again. He turned the idea down and suggested that having a PR department amounts to “manipulating public opinion.”

Over the last few years, the only way for journalists or the public to ask questions to Tesla has been through Elon Musk – mostly on Twitter.

Musk’s use of the social platform has evolved over the last few years. It used to be a great feedback loop for Tesla, but over time, Musk has become more resistant to criticism, blocked critics – including yours truly – and surrounded himself with sycophants on Twitter.

He is often seen retweeting and responding to tweets from people consistently praising him or even quoting him.

More recently, Musk’s use of Twitter evolved again where he now regularly tweets about the “woke mind virus,” the “deep state,” and conspiracy theories.

The CEO still tweets about Tesla, but it’s becoming harder and harder for constructive criticism to get through the noise and reach Musk.

Over the last few months, surveys have shown that Tesla’s reputation has been going down, and the stock price is crashing further than the rest of the industry.

Electrek’s Take

It’s kind of crazy that I have to make the argument for a major company like Tesla to have a PR department in the first place.

But now more than ever, Tesla needs to separate its voice from Elon’s. He alienated too many people. Tesla needs to build its own voice, and despite what Musk thinks, a PR department helps with that.

I didn’t like what Musk said about PR departments being about “manipulating the public.” Of course, it can do that, but it can also simply find ways to efficiently communicate Tesla’s missions, its products, and services.

It can also answer questions that the media has in order to ensure that the most accurate information is out there.

Top comment by Bob Anderson

Liked by 15 people

I would argue the strongest Tesla bulls are those who can be critical while still holding onto their shares. People like SMR, while I generally agree with, are totally wrong about how Elon has been conducting himself as of late. Fred is right, Elon surrounding himself w/ only praise isn't healthy.

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Now I know plenty of you are thinking: “But I hate the media. Journalists are all biased assholes. There’s no point in engaging with them.”

Like in any industry, there are bad actors and incompetent people in the media, but there are also good people trying to do the best for their readers or audience. Sometimes, they are legitimate questions that need answering – and Musk is not doing that for the most part.

Tesla’s PR department was never perfect, and certainly understaffed for a company of that size and with the kind of media coverage they were getting, but they did correct a lot of misinformation and promote Tesla’s highly important mission.

Now at a time when Elon has become more polarizing and there’s a lot of confusion about several of Tesla’s programs, like Full Self-Driving, I think it’s more important than ever for the company to engage with the public – ideally through a strong PR department.

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Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

Fred is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at Electrek.

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