How Elon Musk Uses Public Relations To His Advantage


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Public Relations Adds Value

Elon Musk is no stranger to being featured in the headlines. In fact, he absolutely loves to take a good PR stunt and leverage it to his advantage. Although, the press isn't always positive, as we all know. The CEO and business magnate has had his fair share of public relations successes and scandals, but how have they affected his brand and his companies?

PR, whether it is good or bad, has an intrinsic value attached. Companies can use this value to determine In this blog, Hollywood Branded will explore how Musk leverages his PR value into company growth.

How Elon Musk Uses Public Relations To His Advantage

How Elon Musk Built His Core Brand

Elon Musk sent the media world aflutter when he tweeted a request for the US government to take over payments of Starlink service his company was gifting/loaning to Ukraine, to the tune of $20 million a month all the way up to $85 million a month depending on what news source outlet you read.  The actual financials are not clear at all - as are the hard costs being very subjective. Last week he said he needed to be paid or else. Sunday, he had reconsidered and said he would continue to donate as it was life and death. Both comments are part of a massive PR machine.  Regardless of your thoughts on Musk and whether you think he is a brilliant good/evil genius, he is the epitome of how to leverage PR.  

A calculated decision in most businesses typically triumphs over pure good intention. It’s not a negative – gaining a benefit from an act of good is a terrific way to reinforce repetitive positive behavior. Company business perks boil down to this exact reasoning for employees and other work-related decision-making going back to the dawn of time.

Musk has built his core brand around pop culture and by leveraging PR to the max. His name and face in the media have been a driving force behind what's made him the world's wealthiest man. Starlink and Musk, one of the reasons he has become as powerful as he is, is due to pop culture and PR. He’s news most hours of the day, and his company and team smartly find ways to support initiatives that will keep them in the positive spotlight. And help him get back from the negative he's also renowned for.

Just as they have done by helping Ukraine with Starlink.


The PR Software We Use

Our agency uses Critical Mention to track our own PR mentions, as well as those of our clients and even the product placement verbal mentions in series that the software can flag. I get alerts daily about clients and competitor intelligence and can send clips easily to clients before they hear they've been in the news from someone else.

It's like an advanced Google search across digital, TV, linear and social.  Since I love the stories numbers tell, I often use the software to provide research and stats for writers of various media outlets who interview me. Having stats and that ability to paint a picture in clearly defined numbers and define return on investment makes telling any story better. Just like it will with what I'm writing, and as it does for case studies. 

Back To Musk

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has been flagged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for providing misinformation on...

Photo Credit: Mike Blake | Reuters

I was intrigued when I saw a Yahoo article sharing the news that Musk is finally done with his philanthropy and wants to have the US government step in and take over. So far, Musk’s SpaceX has donated roughly 20,000 Starlinks with service at over $20M per year - by 2023, $100M in costs.

I’ve spent 26 years as a marketer, so my instant thought was – “hmmm… wonder what that PR value was in that good deed?” I’m not a cynic to my core – just one with a healthy dose of reality to my outlook, and I happen to be very curious about the backside payoff of mutually beneficial partnerships.

Now, there was a lot more going on in Elon Musk's life this year than just Ukraine and Starlink.

  • When Russia invaded, Musk committed to providing Starlink to Ukraine.
  • Since March, music artist and co-parent Grimes broke up, took him back as a boyfriend, and broke up again.
  • April began the Twitter roller coaster ride after Musk stated he was purchasing the social platform. Then not purchasing it, and purchasing again. We're riding that PR wave now.
  • In May, Business Insider cited a source stating that Musk engaged in sexual misconduct in 2016. That resulted in a bevy of PR.
  • In July Musk had twins with the director of operations at Neuralink also getting massive global coverage.
  • Add in the publicity around his social posts suggesting how to end Ukraine and Russian war.
  • His consulting (or not?!) with Russia.
  • Then throw in his ideas on how China and Taiwan can mend paths and the welcome and uproars that resulted.

And oh so much more. This man stays busy.

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Musk & His Companies 

Check out the story the numbers say for Elon Musk himself and his owned companies over the last two years:


Mentions 344,649

Audience 975,085,411,246

Publicity $8,855,952,27


The Boring Company


Mentions 2,932,619

Audience 10,066,772,093,631

Publicity $208,255,475,377


Elon Musk


Mentions 96,907

Audience 501,072,550,648

Publicity $7,755,968,232



Mentions 55,363

Audience 459,981,406,403

Publicity $5,025,234,977




Mentions 1,624,776

Audience 6,375,622,720,028

Publicity $157,355,705,912



Mentions 510,525

Audience 1,230,676,770,965

Publicity $27,904,952,148


The Result?

A constant PR machine that keeps building Musk's personal brand and every one of the businesses he owns. He's a machine that keeps replicating. That Energizer Bunny marches on and on, building awareness daily around the world.

Let's take a look at the actual PR value he's created from the good deed – and you can determine if you think it's a sound investment or not.

You'll see a theme for this year. A minimum of 2x growth spikes of that of last year. For ALL entities he is attached to. Tesla. SpaceX. Starlink. The Boring Company. Neurolink. Openai.

EVERY time Musk gets attention, his companies – across the board – benefit with massive brand awareness spikes. Now the next question? How do those numbers impact his actual bottom line and investments? That is another discussion entirely - because PR does impact decisions to purchase and sell, and is one of the reasons pre-IPO companies LOVE getting massive PR and attention, as it really can drive price and purchase interest. 

The lesson here? Get your brand in the news. While the adage any PR is good PR, I can tell you from working to 'fix' countless brands' tarnished images, it's far preferable to find yourself in a PR viral moment from doing the positive.

Eager To Learn More?

Want to learn more about how to use public relations to your advantage? Check out these Hollywood Branded blogs below:

Did you know that public relations isn't the only way to get your brand out there? Entertainment marketing (Hollywood Branded's specialty) can put your company in front of millions. Check out the latest trends below!

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