Decoding the Genius called ‘Elon Musk’ – a Superman in Entrepreneurship
18 Mar 2021
Rarely a week goes by that one doesn’t hear about something Elon Musk has said or done. Entrepreneur, multi-billionaire and visionary, the South African-born Musk has been making waves for over three decades now. Today, Tesla and SpaceX are as much household names as Coke and Xerox – even if they aren’t quite as affordable to the general public.
A self-taught genius who developed his first computer game at the age of 12, Musk earned his first billion dollars in October 2002 when his company PayPal was acquired by eBay and has been making headlines for his innovative entrepreneurship ever since. He has long maintained that humanity needs to be an interplanetary species in order to survive, and the cost-effective reusable rockets that SpaceX makes are quantum leaps forward in that direction. He also became one of the major funders of Tesla Motors back in 2004. More recently, he co-founded the neurotechnology company Neuralink and the whimsically named tunnel construction business The Boring Company.
When it comes to his image, Elon Musk is in a category of his own. He has a brash media personality, but also doesn’t hesitate to discuss products in-depth with his fans. Most recently, tweets from him sent Bitcoin prices skyrocketing – while his own shares plummeted far enough for him to lose the world’s richest person tag. Clearly, Elon Musk doesn’t always strike gold, but there’s a wealth of inspiration to be derived from his personal PR efforts over the last several years. Here’s what brands can learn from Musk’s unorthodox yet compelling personality.
Elon Musk has always been about the grand and the spectacular. He started SpaceX with a single grand vision in mind – to launch a mission to Mars. As a brand you need to have a clear, compelling vision that no one else has and that drives you and your team every day. Then, allow that vision to shine through in every communication you put out.
Signing on a blogger just because he or she has a million Instagram followers is not enough. In order to be known as a domain expert, you should ideally work with influencers who actually know about what you sell and why it matters. Elon Musk chooses to partner with influencers like Marques Brownlee – people who share genuine, well-research content and are trusted as authorities. This way, he gets to connect with a broader set of niche audiences without diluting his image. When you plan your next influencer campaign, therefore, look beyond the follower count at what the influencer really seems to believe in.
When Musk wanted to demonstrate the strength of the Tesla Cybertruck window glass, he threw a metal ball at it. However, instead of bouncing off harmlessly, the ball left a huge fracture in the window. Musk didn’t try to make excuses or hush up the incident – instead, he continued giving his presentation with the fractured window behind him. And his very candidness in owning up to his mistake led to renewed interest in wanting to see the final model. If you make a mistake, therefore, take accountability at once – your audience will appreciate your honesty and be much likelier to forgive you.
Outlandish acts might smack of ‘PR stunt’, but sometimes the payoff can be massive. Musk’s Boring Company Flamethrowers cost $500, had the product branding displayed prominently in all its promo videos, and shot fire far enough to raise eyebrows. The result? All 20000 units sold out in the first 100 hours. While it’s not a sustainable strategy in the long-term, launching your brand with something off-kilter will generate interest and keep your audience curious about what you will come up with next.
Make it evident that you care – deeply – about what your brand is trying to achieve. Elon Musk might be one of the wealthiest people in the world, but his goal was never to make cash. Tesla has always been about making sustainable transport available sooner and to more people, which comes out clearly in the way he communicates. Take pride in what you do and let your audience see how proud you are. Share live videos where you talk about a new product, feature your team, interact with your fans and keep showing up. That pride and passion, ultimately, is what will win over the people who believe in what you do.
Star Squared PR is an award winning PR company championing the cause of Entrepreneurship and decoding what it takes to achieve success with the help of PR.