Tesla is Phasing Out Public Relations

by Gill D on October 09, 2020

EV manufacturer, Tesla is not known for its conventional by-the-book strategies. The carmaker has always been a bit quiet with its media engagement and recently, it was reported that the company has completely dissolved its public relations (PR) department, leaving no official contact for the media in North America. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk has always showed a preference for using Twitter as its public announcement page or platform to make relevant comments, however wacky some of them may have been.

A lot of reporters from various outlets have been trying to get in contact with Tesla for months and were left confused at the lack of contact with the EV company. What we’ve learned is that it’s not personal, it’s just another modern approach by the company to handle things in its own way without the support of an internal PR team. It is the first auto manufacturing company to do this.

Not surprising, Tesla did not issue an official statement confirming its dissolution of its PR department but observations how its light PR team has just about disappeared has sparked these latest reports. While Tesla’s European and Asian PR departments remain operational, the USA team has moved onto other internal positions or new companies. The only people who are managing any type of PR role are those that are around to manage test-drive promotions for YouTubers.

The last known person that was in charge of communications at Tesla, Keely Sulprizio left the EV maker at the end of 2019 to join Impossible Foods. After her departure, most staff in the PR team moved on as well.

Alan Cooper who was another senior member of Tesla’s communications team made an internal move and became Director of Demand Generation, however he has since left the company. Senior manager in Tesla’s PR group, Gina Antonini, changed her role in February to Director of External Relations and Employee Experience, and she continues in this position currently. Another change in February came with comms manager, Alexander Ingram moving into the role as Content Lead for Design Studio, and senior global communications manager, Danielle Meister, resigned from Tesla in April to join the social chat company, WhatsApp.

The now the most recent change has been with Rich Otto, who managed projects such as getting Jay Leno to test drive the Cybertruck, has now moved internally to product manager, which was confirmed by his new title in his  LinkedIn profile.

Perhaps these changes mean that some Tesla news should be taken with a pinch of salt. Because without clarification or verification from the EV automaker to respond on rumors or allegations, it’s not going to be so easy to present both sides of the story unless Musk gives an update via Twitter.

But it is obviously Tesla’s way of wanting to handle things and we will all have to remember that Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment. There is usually method in Musk’s madness and this might raise concerns about the company’s desire for transparency, which not only affects the media, but investors too.

So, going forward, we will let Musk and his tweets be the voice of Tesla. All in all, this move should not really come as a shock because Tesla’s boss has always had a way of raising eyebrows, which may not be understood at the time, but down the line always proved to make sense.

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