Tesla’s media strategy: build a brand without spending on advertising

It’s been quite a week for Tesla Motors (TSLA). The Palo Alto-based electric car company claimed it reached profitability for the first time, saw its stock close at an all-time high, unveiled a new financing program and celebrated the opening of its expanded showroom in San Jose’s Santana Row.

And much of the action was driven by CEO Elon Musk’s bold, brash and unconventional use of social media. The man who helped change the Internet by cofounding PayPal is proving just as determined to change the rules for how public companies communicate — even as the Securities and Exchange Commission wrestles with how to bring those rules into the 21st Century.

“Elon Musk is a marketing genius, in our view,” said Adam Jonas, an analyst who covers Tesla for Morgan Stanley. “A tactful use of social media means a tiny car company has the best known financing program on the planet…. Mainstream OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are being taken to school here.”

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