On June 9, the New York Times, published this headline:
Tesla Model S Suspension Failures Under Scrutiny by Safety Agency
The paper went on to state that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was looking into at least 33 reports of faulty suspensions on Tesla’s flagship Model S sedan.
This, turned out not to be the case, but the news was enough to send stock prices down four percent in a single day and trigger dozens of articles calling Tesla’s safety and quality records into question.
What’s amazing, as reported by TechCrunch, is that the entire issue was triggered by a single blogger with a history of negative posts about Tesla. The car involved was especially hard-driven and the problem was a one-off.
Of the suspension problems reported to the NHTSA, almost all were falsified. That doesn’t mean that Tesla drivers misreported a problem. It means that someone submitted claims using fake vehicle identification numbers and locations.
Would seem to indicate that one or more people sought to create the false impression of a safety issue where none existed. Q is why?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 10, 2016
If you’re running an industry-disrupting startup, eventually you will have an unhappy customer. That person may be (or enlist the services of) a pernicious, persuasive and persevering blogger.
You might not have Elon Musk, but you can still have a crisis communication plan in place, and be ready to reach out to journalists you trust to speak the truth and clear up any issues.
So, what, exactly, did Tesla do? Can you replicate their strategy? Read the full summary of “Tesla’s Weird Week” on TechCrunch.