Corporate communications 101, courtesy of Tesla

A concise, firm and swift response to allegations can prevent a story from catching fire.

Tesla is known for cutting-edge technology, but its communications savvy is advanced, too.

After news agencies published stories about allegations of sexual harassment at Tesla’s California plant, the company responded swiftly. There’s a good chance you haven’t heard about this, because it was quickly and skillfully addressed.

If you’re wondering why the Tesla story hasn’t exploded as the Uber scandal did, check out this response from Tesla’s internal communications team: “The topics raised in this meeting were followed up directly with those willing to discuss,” a Tesla representative told Business Insider. “We have a no-tolerance policy and have made changes to leadership, policy, and training to continue to improve our work environment.

“The reason groups like Women in Tesla exist is precisely because we want to provide employees with an outlet to share opinions and feedback in a constructive manner. At Tesla, we regularly host events like the Town Hall, and only someone who is intentionally trying to misconstrue the facts and paint Tesla in a negative light could perceive such meetings as something negative.”

Clear, concise, no B.S.

The company response: We were made aware of it. We handled it. We’ll continue to handle it in a similar fashion if it comes up again.

I don’t know whether Tesla has a sexual harassment problem. I do know they don’t have a communications department problem. Those folks know what they’re doing—especially considering recent similar situations at other high-profile Silicon Valley companies.

A statement such as the one Tesla issued quashes suspicion about an ongoing problem. It conveys that the folks in charge know exactly what’s going on and that they’ve taken care of it. That should be your goal in crafting and developing communications of this nature.

Do your internal and external communications sound like this? You probably have the “zero tolerance” language, but are you willing to call out your naysayers? Most aren’t, because they don’t really know what’s going on. That leads me to believe Tesla has probably gone the extra mile to deal with those responsible and make sure whatever happened won’t happen again.

Aside from extinguishing PR fires, straightforward communications can have a tremendous impact on employees, shareholders and customers. That’s not something to take lightly.

A version of this post first appeared on Tim Sackett’s blog.

(Image by Phil Denton, via)


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