In 2017, The Guardian and a workspace safety organization published investigations on the injury rates in Tesla’s northern California car factory.
In response, co-founder and CEO Elon Musk said,
“No words can express how much I care about your safety and wellbeing,” Musk wrote. “Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform.”
There have been reports that those injured have never met with Musk personally. Those who work in the factories also say he has come into the factory only four or five times.
Musk sent his apologies and told the public what he would do to make it right, but it seems he is not delivering on his promises.
What did PR do?
Musk’s statement included all the things an apology from a CEO should. It was also bold. In public relations, you have to know what you need to say to make things right, but there could be a fine line. If you make promises you can’t keep, you risk backlash from the public which could lead to loss of trust and therefore loss of sales. It’s a slippery slope, my friends.
Elon Musk, an engineer, businessman and investor, is the CEO and product founder of Tesla. He is also the CEO of SpaceX and Neuralink. Needless to say, Musk has a lot on his plate. Public apologies and “this is what I’ll do to make it up to you,” statements are a great way to ease the public. However, the most important part, to me, is about whether or not the person can keep those promises. I appreciate the bold statement because he promised to do something no other CEO who runs factories have offered to do before. It was new and refreshing! But he wasn’t able to deliver. I think he simply took on too great a task. However, there’s no way this will affect sales within Tesla, so I wouldn’t consider this a crisis yet.
Musk might be a jack of all trades, but he could use some public relations help. This is a good example of making promises as PR move and not fulfilling them.