Tesla's PR Department Is No More, Carmaker Wants Nothing to Do with the Press

To say Tesla's representation in the press has been a mixed one would be an understatement. You have media outlets that seem to be on Tesla's payroll (though they aren't), and those who would shut the company down in a second if it were up to them.
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Photo: YouTube screenshot, modified
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Then, you have the majority of the press - the channels and publications who try to remain neutral and paint an objective picture, leaving the reader/viewer to draw their own conclusions. That's the very definition of what the media should do, but with a company like Tesla, it's proving very, very difficult.

There's a simple reason for that, and his name is Elon Musk. Try to think of any other CEO in the automotive industry that's so closely connected to the company they run, and you won't be able to. Hell, some of them, such as Koenigsegg, even share the same name, and you still don't feel as though the connection is as tight as Musk's is with Tesla.

Because he believes so deeply in the company's mission and probably feels like it's alone against the rest of the industry - not to mention the oil industry as well - Elon Musk is prone to take any kind of criticism on a personal level. Tesla is, if you will, his child, and we all know (or can imagine) what it is like to have somebody question your offspring who is, of course, perfect and can do no wrong.

Except it's not perfect, so there is going to be some criticism. The real problem arises from the way this is interpreted by Tesla's CEO, and up to this point, most of those who had less than positive to say about any of the products have been branded as "short sellers", EV-skeptics, or worse. Instead of a balanced approach, Musk started seeing these people as the enemy, and most of them just happened to be part of the press.

The latest example came after last month's Battery Day, an event that had been hyped for such a long time, that it had become almost impossible to live up to the expectations. Besides, it offered very little tangible progress - instead, there were lots of plans and promises, some spanning over three years.

As a consequence, the press was less than impressed. Sure, the new battery sounds great, and, yes, manufacturing the cells is very important, but it's hard to get excited about something that's not happening yet. A few days after the event, presumably unhappy about the media coverage, Musk all but called the press "stupid" by saying it doesn't get the importance of what was announced.

This seems to have been the final straw for Musk as electrek now says that Tesla has disbanded its PR department, with no plans of reinstating it. To be fair, Tesla's PR had been running on auxiliary power for a while, but the report says the company now has absolutely no Public Relations team whatsoever.

This is an industry first, but Tesla is known to do things differently. For instance, it famously refuses to use paid advertising, something that's been voted against once again during the Shareholder Meeting that preceded Battery Day. Still, severing the ties with the press seems a little too much even for Tesla.

The way we see it, it looks as though the company will continue to provide information to those outlets that are indiscriminately favorable toward Tesla and shun all the rest. Unfortunately, this could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy as part of the press will be enraged with the decision (and rightly so) and report more negatively on Tesla (and wrongly so), essentially proving Musk right. Even though he's mostly not.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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