by Michael Layne

Marx Layne Tesla MotorsAs Tesla Motors stock climbed to its all time high today, from a public relations and crisis communications perspective, we ask the question, “When does it make sense for the CEO to go on the offensive when there is a crisis resulting from negative news coverage?”

It was just last February that the nightmare of nightmares occurred for Tesla CEO and product architect, Elon Musk. After putting his heart and soul into building a new kind of electric car company, he was slammed with a scathing review in the New York Times.

Musk is no shrinking violet. When the review was published stating that the car’s 300 mile promised range was bogus, Musk took an aggressive strategy in what we would clearly call a crisis communications situation. He publicly took the New York Times to task on the accuracy of the article, which had caused Tesla’s stock to drop precipitously wiping out millions of dollars in value not to mention the tremendous damage that a negative article in the New York Times can do to a company’s brand equity.

Nowadays, it is most common in a crisis situation for a PR agency to advise their clients on a defensive position, rather than launching an aggressive offensive campaign. At Marx Layne, we ask our Fortune 500 clients who are not facing a crisis, and clients referred to us by their attorneys who are in a crisis the following questions:

  • How are you prepared for these situations?
  • Is your messaging prepared for a negative eventuality?
  • Do you have product video that speaks to the quality of your brand?
  • Who is your spokesperson and has she been properly trained?

As with Tesla Motors, at Marx Layne we believe first and foremost that the product has to be top notch; whether it is a health care service, manufacturing product, food product, or other. A crisis communications event can happen at anytime to any private, publicly held company, or nonprofit.

Elon Musk clearly believes in the product he painstakingly helped to design, manufacture and market. He took the rare approach to aggressively go on the offensive against the New York Times.

At Marx Layne, we acknowledge Elon Musk and so did the stock market as Tesla’s shares have raced to an all time high.