Tesla is making a huge mistake
With the ability to share information faster, more frequently, and in ever-increasing ways, companies of all sizes are leaning on the work of their public relations teams to ensure the information published about their company is positive, relevant, and factual. Tesla, on the other hand, has been disregarding valuable aspects of their company ever since they said goodbye to their PR team in 2020.
According to MediaKix, PR agencies have grown over 30% yearly for the past five years. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the employment of PR specialists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030. Despite these trends, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has continuously rejected the idea of Tesla going back to having a PR department.
In the past, Tesla used their PR team to communicate with journalists, promote a positive image for Tesla, and do damage control when needed. Since 2020, without traditional PR and advertising, Tesla has come to rely heavily on Musk’s Twitter account and word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers. This dependency on word-of-mouth referrals should be a concern for Tesla, as some of their customers have openly expressed feeling disregarded.
As a result of Tesla’s lack of communication, some users who were waiting to receive their Model S orders were so upset with the company that they took to Twitter, creating a document asking for improved communication. In this document they stated the following: “We feel that the problem lies in the communication, and we can trace this beyond the confines of our local sales teams.” Electrek, a news and commentary site that covers electric transportation, added to the conversation, telling Tesla that, “These people are buying $80,000+ vehicles from you. You should let them know what’s happening with their vehicles.” As you might expect, Tesla never responded to the Twitter request or to Electrek’s comment.
Building strong relationships with customers and communicating with them effectively is an important area of focus that should not be disregarded by Tesla. Toyota, a company that has recently showed an increasing commitment to electric vehicles, understands the importance of improving their connection with customers. As suggested by Harvard Business Review, “Toyota believes its success depends on maintaining the trust of dealers and customers, and it goes to extraordinary lengths to forge lasting relationships with them.” This extra effort to ensure customer satisfaction is allowing Toyota to gain credibility and maintain relationships with customers based on trust, such as with those who are part of Gen-Z.
In addition to communicating with their current customers, Tesla needs to think about the future. As noted in a study conducted by market intelligence agency, Mintel, General Motors (GM) is the most trusted auto brand among Gen-Z. Without a PR team, Tesla is allowing companies like GM to better connect and communicate with younger generations. An article by Auto Finance News explains, “Gen-Z is the largest generation in U.S. history, influencing between $600 billion and $3 trillion in consumer spending,” meaning with little to no focus on communication efforts to this audience, Tesla is potentially making a costly mistake.
Tesla may be profiting, but they are failing to communicate successfully and are not providing customers with the support they are requesting. These two factors alone could jeopardize the future of Tesla. The simple solution? Tesla needs to reintroduce a PR team to the company to improve sales and customer satisfaction.
By Kayla McPherson
Kayla McPherson is a junior at San Diego State University who grew up in the East Bay Area. She is majoring in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations, and is working to obtain minors in Marketing and Spanish. She is set to graduate in May of 2023 and looks forward to working in PR and Marketing. In her free time, Kayla enjoys going to the beach and spending time with friends and family, and she hopes to remain in San Diego after she graduates.