Elon Musk and His Broken Windows Approach to PR


There’s attention to detail, and then there’s attention to detail.

Elon Musk may win the prize.

ELON-COVER-BOOK-LARGEI will be presenting my synopsis of the new Elon Musk book tomorrow at the July 10 First Friday Book Synopsis. (Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance). I’ve read the book. I’ve pondered what I’ve learned. And, I’m ready to say again that there are some people who are simply not “replicable.” (Walter Isaacson’s term for Steve Jobs).

In other words, we can learn a few things from Elon Musk, but, more realistically, we just have to kind of marvel at who he is and what he has accomplished.

Here’s one snapshot (from the book):

“He comes from the school of thought in the public relations world that you let no inaccuracy go uncorrected,” said Vince Sollitto, the former communications chief at PayPal. “It sets a precedent, and you should fight every out-of-place comma tooth and nail. He takes things very personally and usually seeks war.”

Let’s call this the “Broken Windows Approach to PR” (cf. the “Broken Windows Theory” of Policing). If there is a bad story out there, an inaccuracy, or a misrepresentation, no matter how small, Elon Musk responds immediately. Let no disparaging comment go unanswered!

Think of what is behind that approach: incredible attentiveness, very long work hours, a willingness to be very “blunt” in your communications.

I thought I knew work ethic. But Elon Musk wishes he could cut out eating so that he could spend more time at work. He has no time for chit-chat – ever! He takes work ethic to a whole new level. He figures out who many hours a week he needs to devote to a relationship to sustain it. (He’s been through two wives in three marriages – no, I’m not commending/recommending this aspect of his work ethic).

Read this book. Make some changes and tweaks and improvements in your own work life. But, remember… Elon Musk is probably not quite “replicable.”

But, maybe, his Broken Windows Approach to PR is worth some careful consideration.

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