Tesla is an outlier among carmakers for a large number of reasons. They’re the only mainstream all-electric carmaker, they have a much greater cultural impact than most other carmakers, their CEO is likely the only one of all the major car companies that any random person off the street could name, and, significant to what I want to talk about here, they handle media very differently from everyone else. Specifically, they ignore us.
Well, I know conclusively they ignore me, and based on some informal research, I think they’re ignoring almost all the other automotive journalists, too.
This wasn’t always the case; in fact, Tesla used to be very, very active and interested in what was written about them. So much so that if we ran a story about Tesla and didn’t reach out to them for comment first, a shitshow would usually ensue.
I mean, it’s good journalistic practice anyway to reach out to any company you’re talking about if its something current for which they may have comment, but there have been some cases where I didn’t do that, or didn’t do it early enough.
I remember a few years back I wrote about Tesla’s touchscreen-based wiper controls, and I didn’t reach out to Tesla for comment, and as a result they got super pissed and almost pulled this Model S we were going to use in the shooting of our short-lived and rarely-seen TV show, and our then Editor-in-Chief Patrick George got so mad at me he kicked me out of our Slack room and I felt like I really let dad down and it was no fun at all.
In fact, I drew this little sign reminding me to reach out for comment with Patrick’s angry/disappointed face on it and stuck it on my computer so I’d never forget again:
I should also mention that a few months ago my initial thoughts on how the Model 3’s wiper controls suck were vindicated by a German court, so there.
Anyway, once, not too long ago, Tesla’s PR department was very interested in engaging with journalists and giving statements and communicating in an open and honest way.
Again, that’s all gone.
I haven’t had a Tesla PR person respond to an email in months and months. I’m not even sure they’re checking that email account at all anymore. I checked through my emails from this year, and it looks like exactly zero of my emails to Tesla for comment or more information have been answered, and as I’m reading over those emails, I can see a progression where my inquiries grow more and more unhinged.
So, since they didn’t read them, I figured I’d share them with you, since I like you better, anyway.
They start out pretty normal:
There then follows a series of other similarly straightforward emails over the next few months about various stories, occasionally mentioning that I haven’t yet heard back about other issues, but nothing unusual.
It looks like I started to lose it around July:
A few more followed in a similar manner, still relatively under control. Then we start to lose it again:
It just gets worse from there:
More recently, I really quit giving a shit:
I didn’t actually go through with publishing that default statement from them, but who knows, next time I just might.
…and this is from earlier today:
Do I think Tesla is going to suddenly decide to start corresponding with me after this public exposure of my filthy laundry? I doubt it. But I am hoping other automotive journalists might come forward and finally let me know if I’m alone here and this is just a personal shunning, or if this is truly the across-the-board silence I suspect it may be.
So, if you’ve been snubbed by Tesla, let me know. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just keep emailing into the void, growing every more unhinged and belligerent, until my unopened emails circle the entire internet and are flung back at me, whacking me in the back of the head.
I think that’s how that works.
UPDATE October 7, 3:45 a.m. AEST: What we’ve all suspected for months has been confirmed: Tesla has no PR department any longer. Electrek seems to have confirmed this, with a source inside confirming the company no longer has a PR team.
I guess when you have a near-cult-like mass of hardcore stans, what the hell do you need a PR team for, anyway, right?
At least I know now it’s not just me.