Elon Musk: Visionary or PR Wizard?
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
The following is an article “Elon Musk: Visionary or PR Wizard?” by Marc Primo.
Elon Musk. The name alone sounds like a character from some futuristic science-fiction movie about an eccentric billionaire, whose companies develop high performance electric cars and space rockets capable of vertical landings.
The man from the future
When a reel life story unfolds in real life, people take notice. And unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past decade, chances are you’ve heard of Elon Musk—widely known as the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc; and co-founder and CEO of Neuralink. With credentials like that, it’s no wonder he is frequently making headlines around the world.
Space exploration is a subject that has always captured the attention and imagination of the planet’s populace, and along comes Musk who appears to take our voyage of discovery to the next level. The same goes for futuristic electric cars, as proven by the global success of Toyota Prius. While a Tesla will set you back at least $35,000 for its base model, don’t think for a moment that Tusk’s companies only benefit society’s elite. Unbeknownst to many, he also happens to be co-founder of PayPal.
Visionary and PR Wizard?
In Q2 2017, Tesla became the most valuable American carmaker for the first time. Since then, it has gone neck and neck with General Motors Co. (GM), taking turns holding the distinction of being the country’s top company in the automotive industry based on market value—no mean feat for a product that only a handful of the population can afford.
Then, in Q1 of this year, Musk leveraged on both the public’s appetite for space exploration and electric cars (with as much horsepower as a Mustang) by firing a dashcam-mounted Tesla Roadster into outer space. Musk’s tweet, that allowed his followers to view video feed of a sports car orbiting earth, was just the kind of stuff that half a million likes on Twitter are made of.
Obviously, nobody, not even Musk, can pull off out of this world PR stunts of that caliber every single day. While disappearing back to the drawing board to cook up the next great thing, visionaries and innovators are often faced with the reality that their name must always be out there in order to stay relevant.
Timing is everything
In Q3 of this year, Musk somehow managed to piggyback on world headlines about a group of youths perilously trapped in a coastal Thailand cave. Musk volunteered a submersible manufactured by his company, but was too late the hero after the boys were rescued by a group of divers. He then famously insulted one of the rescuers, who implied that Musk had capitalized on the harrowing situation for self-promotion.
Just recently, Musk managed to trend on social media, despite no major product launch or space mission, by simply getting interviewed on a live podcast where he then proceeded to smoke what appeared to be marijuana.
Whether or not you agree with Musk’s antics to ensure his name is always out there, he has managed to prove the old school way of thinking true: publicity, whether good or bad, is still publicity.