Recently, news broke that Tesla had dissolved their public relations department. According to Electrck they are the first producer of automobiles to cut off all relations with the press. After the head of the PR department, Keely Suprizo, resigned in December, almost every member of their team followed.
According to Electrck, an automotive blog, Tesla has been dissolving its PR team for over a year. There is speculation that this may be a response to Tesla founder Elon Musk’s distaste for the press. Tesla has continued to leave all media inquiries unanswered. There has been no official statement about the removal of their North American PR team.
Musk has become the only spokesperson for Tesla using his Twitter account which boasts 39.4 million followers. Musk’s Twitter platform does not account for any crisis management.
Techcrunch stated that “what this creates is a black hole of information coming from the company. Facts will be unobfuscated if there are no official positions on whatever is happening in the news.” For many this is not surprising news, Musk has made his mistrust of the media obvious in the past berating the press multiple times for representing Tesla unfairly.
After the news broke on Electrck’s website, The Public Relations Society of America issued a statement in response stating that this “action sets an extraordinarily dangerous precedent for blocking the continued free flow of information from one of the world’s most innovative and influential companies, as well as impacting the media’s ability to responsibly cover an organization’s activities.”
Tesla’s actions is worrisome news for many PR professionals. As these events continue to unfold, it is hard to tell if other organizations will follow in Tesla’s footsteps.
Rebekah Corwin is a senior from New Albany, double majoring in public relations and psychology. Corwin is an associate lead with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.